Ending a decade of speculation, owners of the on-again, off-again Spokane Valley Mall have made it official: It’s on again.
The Bon Marche formally announced Thursday that it will build a store in the mall at Interstate 90 and Sullivan Road. The 120,000-square-foot store will be the cornerstone of a 100-store mall with at least three anchor tenants scheduled to open by August 1997, according to news releases by developer JP Realty Inc. and The Bon.
“We believe The Bon announcement solidifies the anchor mix so that the mall will proceed,” said JP Realty President Rex Frazier in a telephone interview from Salt Lake City. “The mall will be an attraction for residents in the east Valley and anyone else on the corridor of I-90.”
In an April letter to its new shareholders, JP Realty stated that other anchors - including J.C. Penney, Mervyn’s and Lamonts - have committed “in principle” to long-term leases at the proposed mall. Sears also reportedly is being wooed as an anchor tenant.
Development of the Spokane Valley Mall could affect several other retail projects from downtown Spokane to Post Falls. Although owners of those developments say they’re not planning changes due to The Bon’s announcement, the prospect of a Valley mall riveted their attention.
“It’s just another move on the chessboard of retail development,” said Goodale & Barbieri Vice President Tom Barbieri. “It’s not the checkmate.”
G&B;’s University City shopping center at Sprague and University is planning an expansion, although far less ambitious than the Spokane Valley Mall.
The largest project that could be affected indirectly by the Valley mall is downtown’s River Park Square.
Citizens Realty Co. and Lincoln Investments Co., owners of River Park Square, called a news conference shortly after The Bon’s announcement to say they have not altered plans for an $80 million public/private development of the downtown retail core.
“It’s way too early to speculate on the whatifs,” said Citizens and Lincoln President Betsy Cowles. “There are still a lot of details to be worked out.”
Citizens and Lincoln are affiliates of Cowles Publishing Co., which owns The SpokesmanReview.
The Bon, which opened a store at North Town Mall in 1993, has not announced whether it will pull out of downtown when it opens in the Valley. If the Seattle-based retailer opens a third store here, Spokane will be the smallest city with three Bons, according to the company’s 1994 corporate fact book. Boise and Bellingham have two each. Seattle also only has two stores, but seven more are located in nearby suburbs.
Public relations officials from The Bon were on vacation Thursday and unable to return phone calls.
Although Cowles insisted that the downtown redevelopment would continue, she admitted that the pullout of a high-profile anchor would be a detriment to downtown that could cause other retailers to vacate.
“Nordstrom can’t survive as a stand-alone. We’ve known that from the beginning … and vice-versa (with The Bon),” said Cowles, who said she was surprised at The Bon’s announcement.
The announcement ends years of vacillating by Price Development Co. and affiliate JP Realty. The companies, based in Salt Lake City, have announced the start of mall construction three times in the past five years.
In 1990, Price Development paid $7.9 million for an 82-acre site at Sullivan and I-90, saying mall construction was imminent. Two years later, Price again announced pending construction, but nothing ensued and within months the company canceled the venture, blaming gun-shy lenders. Earlier this year, JP Realty raised $196 million in a public stock offering and set aside $12 million for the Valley mall project.
Other retail developments planned along the I-90 corridor include a retail center to be developed by Tomlinson Black Group of Cos. at I-90 and Sullivan, and a power center on land owned by Metropolitan Mortgage Co. at Sullivan and Broadway.
Seal Beach, Calif-based Watson & Associates recently scaled back plans for a retail development in Post Falls that once was slated to include a regional mall.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Proposed Spokane Valley Mall site