My Home takes over anchor position in Kirkland's Totem Lake Malls
By RAECHEL DAWSON
Kirkland Reporter Reporter
September 20, 2012 · 9:30 AM
Management at My Home Furniture and Decor is confident they can help change business at the sluggish Totem Lake Malls. So much, that they dropped $250,000 to remodel the anchor store.
“We felt (store Manager) Barb (Jelly) and I could turn the mall around,” said My Home owner Merlin Smith.
The furniture and home improvement store opened in the anchor store location of the Totem Lake Malls on July 10, which Smith said is ironic because it was the three-year anniversary from the business’ first launch in 2009. Its original location was behind the Fred Meyer in Totem Lake on N.E. 118th Street.
“It was like moving 1,500 homes,” Smith jokes about the furniture store’s relocation.
But it appears My Home’s presence has definitely drawn some attention. Smith said it has been fun seeing new customers come in for the first time.
“One woman walked in, stopped and took a look left and right and just said ‘Wow,’” Smith said.
Jelly agrees. She says they’ve been getting that reaction from “everybody.”
One problem they face now is getting the attention of the 22,000 clients who frequented their old location. But Jelly and Smith attribute new clients to the many TV and radio ads, along with the signs out front.
Even though a good chunk of money was invested into the store’s appearance, Smith said they weren’t left without help. Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis Group, Inc., the mall’s property management, painted outside signs, sidewalks, parking lot stripes, as well as the large monument sign out front. CBRE also provides the security service at the front entrance of the mall.
“(The guards) walk around and have to send in their locations,” Jelly said as she explained that the previous security guards had a different system.
Smith added that there have been no homeless people “hanging around” the mall since June.
In recent history, people in the community have been concerned with criminal activity and loiterers in the malls.
Co-owner of the malls, Coventry Real Estate Advisors, agreed to fix the leaky roof that a previous tenant, Shopsmart Bazaar, encountered, according to Smith. The roof has been an issue for decades.
Shopsmart Bazaar, a flea market-type conglomerate, had a large customer following in the short two months it was open in the winter of 2011. They agreed to pay $2,000 a month as long as they cleaned up the space.
But when Developers Diversified Realty and Coventry upped the lease rate just three weeks after Shopsmart Bazaar opened, the business was forced to close.
Shopsmart Bazaar owner Sig Rudowicz said in 2011 he and his partner put over $9,000 into fixing up the location. Little is known about any lease agreements the mall’s management had with World of Decor, a furniture auction business that occupied the location before My Home.
Although Smith wouldn’t tell the Reporter how long My Home’s lease is or how much he was paying for rent, he did say that the agreement was shorter than 10 years, but he hoped to be at the Totem Lake location “long term.”
Smith said when the tenants do the work themselves, such as My Home, the lease costs are better and Coventry has been issuing longer leases and recruiting a variety of businesses.
A new business next to My Home opened over the summer as well. The School of Oom Yung Doe Martial Arts also put money into contracting their space because they wanted it done a specific way. But owner Mackenzie Graham said CBRE did offer to put money into the contract work and has been great in maintaining the mall area.
Graham echoed Smith in speculation that lease rates are discounted right now because there is a move to revitalize the mall. The martial arts school has a three-year lease and hope they can extend it later.
In early September, planning director Eric Shields mentioned the possibility of another remodel for 24 Hour Fitness in the old CompUSA location.
Next week the Kirkland Reporter will provide information on the city’s plan to hold a second Totem Lake Symposium in late October and feedback from the community during a “Totem Lake Conversation” meet and greet with the mayor and council member Amy Walen.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Reporter Raechel Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 X5052.