Kirkland's vision for a renovated and expanded Totem Lake Mall came into sharper focus last night as the City Council approved pledging...

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Kirkland’s vision for a renovated and expanded Totem Lake Mall came into sharper focus last night as the City Council approved pledging $15 million toward the proposed $129 million project.

The city hopes transforming the struggling, 1970s-era mall into a community of apartments, restaurants, offices and shops will boost tax revenue and give the neighborhood a strong center. Developer Coventry/DDR, which bought the mall in 2004 for $37 million, has a record of turning around underperforming malls, including one in Long Beach, Calif.

Final approval of a development agreement won’t come until the council is satisfied with the mall’s design and business plan, which will be negotiated in the coming weeks with Coventry/DDR, said City Manager Dave Ramsay.

“This is our top economic-development priority,” Ramsay said before the meeting. “We believe this is a good investment to revitalize an area, to achieve additional city revenue and to create this quality center of the community.”

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Under the proposal, the mall would triple in size and feature community space, such as a plaza designed for strolling with decorative street lamps and benches. Shoppers would travel among many of the stores by heading back outside, more like Seattle’s University Village or Redmond Town Center than a traditional enclosed mall.

Kirkland’s share of the cost would pay for the public area, improvements to 120th Avenue Northeast and a portion of a future parking structure, Ramsay said.

Kirkland leaders are looking to the revamped mall, an expansion of nearby Evergreen Hospital Medical Center and a new transit hub to help revitalize the Totem Lake neighborhood, which has languished as bigger stores such as Lamonts and Gottschalks closed shop.


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By adding big retailers, restaurants and amenities that Kirkland residents now must travel to Bellevue or Redmond to enjoy, they hope shoppers will stay in town and keep their sales tax flowing into the city’s coffers. The city would issue 30-year bonds and perhaps use some of its existing capital-improvement funds to raise its $15 million share, Ramsey said.

The mall pulls in about $661,000 of tax revenue and business-licensing fees annually. A revamped Totem Lake Mall should generate $1.6 million additional dollars of tax revenue each year, Ramsay said. The city would use half of that to pay the bond debt and put the rest into the general fund, the pot of money that pays for city services such as law enforcement.

As the city begins negotiating the project’s development agreement, some council members said they’d like the developer to delay the city’s payment until the sales-tax-producing portions of the project are completed.

Others want to ensure the additional tax revenue expected from the project won’t have to go toward funding additional police patrols for the area.

The city aims to seal the mall’s development agreement by year’s end, with plans to complete the project within five to seven years, though phases may open earlier.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or