News

SeaTac Mall to be a 'cornerstone'

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Steadfast Companies paid $37 million in February to purchase SeaTac Mall, but the property development company’s big spending is just beginning.

The Newport Beach, Calif.-based firm plans to revamp the mall inside and out in the hope of reversing negative perceptions of the mall and eventually attracting more retailers and shoppers.

James Yoder, vice president of Steadfast, told Federal Way Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday that the mall has a lot of strengths, including a good location, ample parking, easy access and a “decent initial mass of shops.”

Now, Steadfast is hoping to change the mall’s weaknesses — vacancies, outdated decor, strong competition and a stigma that reaches a national scale — to attract new retailers, restaurants and services and to reposition the mall to better serve Federal Way’s residents.

This summer, Steadfast will begin by ripping up the carpet and replacing it with tile. Glass fixtures with lights under them — “which haven’t been seen in decades,” Yoder said — will be removed, as will fixed planters and benches that break up the visibility and aesthetic flow.

Steadfast plans to add large skylights to increase the natural light in the mall and make it feel more open and welcoming, he said.

The company also plans to change the pagoda structures near the main entryway to the mall to something more urban and classic that could be used by the tenants and to create a more dramatic entrance.

Yoder said they’ll probably change the mall’s name while they’re at it.

The mall’s new owners hope the improvements will keep some of the local shoppers from driving to the Southcenter or Tacoma malls to do their shopping.

“It takes a motivated person to get on the freeway and go elsewhere,” Yoder said in reference to the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Steadfast would like to improve the food court, and company officials have begun talking about bringing back the type of entertainment that was lost when a movie theater in the mall closed two years ago.

The ultimate goal is to make the existing retailers stronger and to attract new retailers that could offer local shoppers a broader selection of merchandise, Yoder told a gathering of chamber members at the mall.

He said mall redevelopment will be pedestrian-friendly and will contribute to the city’s vision for the downtown core.

“Our company always looks (at development) with eyes to what more we could do here (in the community),” Yoder said. “We want to try to make the mall a cornerstone.”

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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