Shoppers can expect to see some changes coming to Redmond Town Center (RTC).
Fairbourne Properties closed its deal to purchase the town center on Dec. 30, 2019. The Chicago-based company purchased the property from New York-based DRA Advisors for $192 million.
Fairbourne president David Harvey said DRA put the property up for sale in spring 2019, and Fairbourne put in a bid, but was actually the runner-up.
“We didn’t think we would get it because [DRA] went with another buyer,” he said.
But that initial winning bid fell through, and Fairbourne was contacted in late October 2019 and asked if they were still interested. They were, Harvey said.
“We were the rebound buyer,” he said.
Harvey said one of the selling points of RTC was the fact that it is an open-air shopping center — like many of their other properties nationwide.
He said the town center is in a strong growth area, pointing to Redmond’s tech companies’ growth and the resulting growth in population, housing and employment.
Harvey also noted that the bulk of RTC is one or two stories, and they will look into options for more “densification.”
As for what could go into the town center, he said there are already a lot of hotels in the area, but the current market is underserved when it comes to office space. RTC may see the addition of more apartments, but Harvey said those as well as more offices will come over time.
Harvey said the next 12 months will involve a lot of planning. But in the immediate timeline, $12 million has been earmarked for cosmetic purposes. Harvey said this can include placemaking efforts such as architecture and landscaping work to make the town center more attractive.
Dan Ullom, owner of Brick and Mortar Books in the town center, would like to see the mall’s Center Street Plaza look more like it was intended for pedestrians. He said although it’s closed to traffic, it still feels like a street for cars.
One of the biggest spaces available to lease on the property is the former Macy’s location, which has been vacant since the national retailer closed about a year ago.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Amazon is moving into the space and building a satellite research and development headquarters. It was also reported that Amazon confirmed that its Project Kuiper facility will be in Redmond.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson from Amazon said, “Location details on our Project Kuiper facility in Redmond are not available yet, but we will have more to share soon.”
Harvey said things are premature, and while the former Macy’s space could be split to fit multiple tenants, they have three good national potential tenants who could take over the entire space.
Staying on board
While Fairbourne is the new property owner, JSH Properties will be staying on as the shopping center’s property manager. Harvey said they have done a good job as manager and leasing agent for the property and turning RTC into a gathering place for the community.
With JSH staying on board, Mark Chenovick, artistic director of SecondStory Repertory in the town center, assumes things will be “business as usual with no noticeable changes” for them. And business as usual means continuing to produce live theater at the town center, which Chenovick said he is thankful to JSH and the owners because not all local theater groups have been as lucky.
“Woodinville [Repertory Theatre], Jet City Improv, Theater Schmeater all lost their venues recently and Burien Actors Theatre is currently facing eviction,” he said. “We are lucky to have landlords that are willing to make space for the arts in an area that is experiencing unprecedented economic expansion.”
And looking to the future, Chenovick said he wishes the mall and city would address the parking situation that will be created by the light rail station being built by the town center.
A local focus
While they do not know what new businesses will be coming to the town center, Harvey said they want to focus on local retailers — such as those that have a Seattle presence in Ballard or Capitol Hill and do not have an Eastside location yet.
Redmond Mayor Angela Birney said the city is enthusiastic about the town center’s potential.
“As a community gathering space and economic driver in Redmond, we look forward to partnering with the new ownership and encourage those who live and work in Redmond to shop locally,” she said.
The focus on local and independent businesses is one of the reasons Berrie D’Angelo likes shopping at RTC. The Bellevue resident said RTC and Crossroads Bellevue are equidistant from where she lives, and said she likes the outdoor/indoor feel of RTC. And as a mother, D’Angelo likes all the kid-friendly amenities such as the sensory garden and water fountain.
“I think it’s nice,” she said.
D’Angelo said it would be nice to see more food and restaurant options and more independent shops.
“Everywhere needs more independent shops,” she said, adding, “a vintage store would be cool — something a little bit funky.”
Dan Ullom, owner of Brick and Mortar Books, said in terms of potential neighbors, it would be good to have more stores with clothes and shoes for kids as well as a record store.
“I think a record store would be really neat,” he said, adding that he has had enough customers inquiring about record stores in the town center that one would do well at RTC.
Something more experiential, such as a bowling alley or something to do with gaming, would also be nice, Ullom said. He pointed out that Microsoft games Minecraft, Halo and Forza are headquartered at the town center. Ullom said he would also like to see a main stage in the town center.
“Malls are community spaces and we need to make sure we embrace that,” he said.