As Alderwood Mall continues to reopen stores to the public, mall management briefed Lynnwood city leaders Wednesday on measures being taken to promote safe in-person shopping as well as updates on the mall’s expansion project.
Alderwood Mall Senior General Manager Jerry Irwin visited the Lynnwood City Council’s July 15 work session to explain how the mall has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the mall closed its doors to in-person shopping for 11 weeks, with a few stores offering curbside pick-up and some restaurants providing takeout services.
Last month, Alderwood was the first mall to reopen in the region, with fewer than half of its stores allowing shoppers to return to in-person shopping. Now, Irwin said, 86% of mall retailers have reopened. Though mall staff do not currently have data regarding the number of shoppers visiting the mall since reopening, Irwin said mall traffic flow is at 50% of what it typically is and on track with management’s projections.
To provide a safe environment for shoppers, Irwin said the mall has implemented a variety of safety measures, such as installing hand sanitizer stations, frequent and intense cleaning, establishing social distancing standards and reducing mall hours. He added that the mall is requiring shoppers to wear masks and mall security has a supply to distribute to those who do not have one.
“I think a lot of these are going to be a best practice that we take into the future, even post-COVID, but the curbside has been really successful for us,” Irwin said.
According to Irwin, the mall is operating at 95% retail capacity. During the briefing, he highlighted the mall’s growing list of retailers, like Seattle Coffee Gear, Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea and T-Mobile store. A local barber will also be relocating its business to the mall. Irwin added two new restaurants will replace the now-closed Romano’s Macaroni Grill and MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza.
The presentation also included details about the future Amazon 4-star retail store opening in August. Amazon 4-store will feature an alternating stock of the online retailer’s top-rated merchandise at a brick-and-mortar location.
In addition, Irwin provided an update on Avalon Alderwood, the mall’s expansion project on the site of the former Sears building. The project includes two, six-story multi-family apartment buildings with a total of 328 residential units and 90,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. Construction was briefly halted due to the stay-home order, but Irwin said crews are working to meet the 2022 deadline.
“The project was delayed about two months due to COVID, but they’re doing I think a great job catching up,” he said.
Construction on the residential spaces is expected to be back on schedule in the third quarter of 2021 with some retail opening around 2021-22, Irwin said.
The development will also include spaces for additional restaurants, including a Dave & Busters located near the south apartment tower.
“The good news is, there’s still a lot of interest in this so we’re really excited about this project,” Irwin said.
For more information on current policies and safety procedures, visit the mall’s website.
Also during the July 15 meeting, the council received an update on the city’s plans to redevelop the south Lynnwood neighborhood. An update on the project was initially scheduled for earlier this year but was rescheduled due to the pandemic. The council discussed the city’s plans for the neighborhood last fall.
South Lynnwood includes the areas east of Highway 99 between 196th Street Southwest to 212th Street Southwest ,reaching the city limits near both Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. The neighborhood extends east to 44th Avenue West near Lynnwood’s City Center district.
The city is currently in Phase 2 of the South Lynnwood Neighborhood Plan — an effort by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department to address social inequality — including income and language barriers — in south Lynnwood. With the development of Lynnwood’s City Center district and the coming Sound Transit light rail station in 2024, city staff have been working on a plan to ensure the area is preserved for the area’s communities, many of which include people of color.
Phase 2 began last year with public outreach efforts to establish relationships with the south Lynnwood community and develop a vision for the neighborhood. Staff has also been identifying ways to stabilize housing, improve access to more public and non-motorized methods of transit, and potentially use the neighborhood as a model for other areas in the city.
“We recognize that some of the things that are happening in south Lynnwood aren’t unique to south Lynnwood,” said city project manager Ashley Winchell.
City staff has been working with community members and business owners to gather feedback on how the area can be improved. During her presentation, Winchell detailed four themes — or “future condition statements” — city staff noticed during community outreach, including emphasizing diversity. The city’s data has shown that the Latino population in south Lynnwood is almost double the population of the city, and one-third of the neighborhood’s population identifies as foreign born.
“A lot of people who live in south Lynnwood have come from other places in the world and they bring their cultures and diversity to that neighborhood which is something the neighborhood has expressed they see as a huge asset to the neighborhood,” Winchell said. “They want to find ways to make sure it’s a permanent identity of south Lynnwood.”
The neighborhood has 350 businesses, with almost one-third of the city’s workforce (or 8,000 jobs) also being located in the area.
The second theme touched on providing and preserving stable housing in south Lynnwood. Winchell said residents are concerned about the rising cost of housing in the city. Between 2012-18, the city saw an 11% increase in the median price of rent as well as a 24% increase in median home value. In south Lynnwood, one-third of renters are “extremely cost-burdened,” meaning they are paying at least 50% of their monthly income on housing costs. For homeowners, roughly 21% have been reported to be paying at least 50% of their income on housing.
“A lot of people who live in south Lynnwood have limited ability to maybe meet their needs after they pay for housing,” Winchell said.
Residents in south Lynnwood have also reported lower-than-average incomes while also experiencing greater levels of poverty than other residents. The median household income in the neighborhood is $51,000, compared to the city’s average household income, which is around $75,000, Winchell said.
Third, Winchell said south Lynnwood families value parks and green spaces, with many saying places like South Lynnwood Park, access to the Interurban Trail and Scriber Lake are reasons they live there.
However, residents also reported wanting to see more connectivity to the future light rail station and other commercial areas in the city.
The fourth theme presented by Winchell highlighted economic development and providing employment opportunities and access to social services. South Lynnwood also has a greater portion of land zoned for industrial uses — many of which are located along Highway 99 — than the rest of the city, which is why the neighborhood accounts for so many jobs, Winchell said.
The majority of the jobs in south Lynnwood (79%) are categorized as private sector jobs, with public and self-employed jobs making up the remaining 21%. Of that, Winchell said 8,215 people travel to south Lynnwood to work while 3,748 residents live in the area but do not work there. Only 155 residents reported working and living in south Lynnwood, she added.
Before the pandemic led to sweeping unemployment across the city and state, the unemployment rate in south Lynnwood was reported at 3.1%, not accounting for undocumented residents.
Next, Winchell said staff will draft recommendations for the city and its community partners to achieve the goals for the neighborhood. Winchell said staff is working with the project’s co-design committee to possibly hold a virtual open house to share its findings and encourage more input from residents before making final recommendations to the city council.
–By Cody Sexton