General Growth Properties reveals plans to remodel NorthTown Mall

NorthTown Mall will be extensively remodeled in 2014 featuring a more modern and stylish exterior. (PHOTO: Spokane Journal of Business)

General Growth Properties, the owner of NorthTown Mall at Wellesley and Division in north Spokane (and Spokane Valley Mall on Indiana), is planning a massive remodel of their largest inland Northwest property. The changes should get underway in the next few weeks as crews demolish much of the north side of the building to build a new, more central and clearly defined entrance.

Significant modern and timeless architectural embellishments will be used to temper the current bare concrete facade of the building. The plan is to first demolish about 120,000 square feet of space between Macy’s and Kohl’s. Then 63,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space will be added in its place. The parking lot will be reconfigured and the interior of the building will be repainted and generally improved. Notably, GGP plans to sign tenants new to the Spokane area, but no announcements have yet been made. With construction getting underway shortly, all indications are that the renovations will be complete by early 2015.

We’re pleased to see redevelopment at Spokane’s primary suburban-style mall, but we do wish that investment would be more concentrated downtown. The Downtown Spokane Partnership has already indicated that additional retail space, especially for large-format retailers similar to Nordstrom, is incredibly necessary downtown. With General Growth Properties making a major investment at NorthTown, downtown will have a hard time keeping up unless significant investment is made. And soon.

Thoughts?

READ MORE:

Downtown Spokane Partnership Proposes to Gut Library, Insert Retail

In today’s list of weird news, it looks like the Downtown Spokane Partnership is in very early discussions about the possibility of selling off and moving downtown’s Public Library in attempt to create more retail space. The news broke in the Inlander on Saturday, and the proposal is already drawing an extremely negative response on social media.

Downtown Spokane Partnership President Mark Richard says that the downtown area has had to turn down major national retailers due to the dearth of available large-scale commercial/retail real estate. “They’ve had to turn down H&M and other larger prospects downtown because we don’t have the space to provide them,” Richard said to the Inlander. River Park Square is indeed thriving, but so is the library; according to the spokesman of the Spokane Public Library, Eva Silverstone, 22,000 people per month use the downtown branch, with usage up year-over-year. Contrary to popular reports, the library is not fading, growing ever more popular with each passing month.

Still, downtown needs more retail space, and there are few good options. Mobius, the new(er) science center located across from Nordstrom, could move into a new space as it has been struggling in its current site. But that would only open up space for maybe one large-format retailer, like H&M. Riverside, Spokane’s historical “Main Street,” could be used to open up additional retail, with connections via Post, but unless a lot of retail opens both on Post and on Riverside at once, I can’t see people opting to walk two blocks out of the way just for one store.

My vote? Go all out. Demolish (or extensively remodel) the Macy’s Building and complete the Bennett Block redevelopment project as soon as possible. Then add an 8-12 story mixed use building next door on the current Diamond Parking lot. Finally, develop Riverside as a new retail node upon completion of those projects. (How would you add significant new retail opportunities to downtown? Comment below!)

It may seem like overkill, but indications from mall leadership are to the contrary. “If I had another two blocks of street front we would [still] be full,” Bryn West, the general manager of River Park Square told the Inlander last fall.

We’ll keep covering this story as it develops.