July 2, 2009 in Washington Voices

Shopping center update almost complete

Tenants pleased with fresh new look
By The Spokesman-Review
 
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON photo

The renovation of the Town and Country Center, at Monroe Street and Francis Avenue, is almost complete.
(Full-size photo)

A longtime North Side fixture is receiving a contemporary face-lift.

Aaron Lake of Stejer Development said the makeover of the Town and Country Shopping Center on west Francis Avenue is scheduled to be completed next week. “This is the third substantial remodel of the center,” he said. “The exterior of the main portion received a new façade, new storefronts and new lighting.”

Warm beige exteriors accented by dark brown eaves and rock pillars add to the center’s updated look.

When the shopping mall was constructed in the late 1950s, the area definitely had more of a country feel. Jackie Brown, owner of Jack and Jill Hair Design, a tenant of the mall for 33 years, has lived in the neighborhood most of her life. “Francis was a dirt street when I grew up,” she said. “I used to play in the woods where Safeway is now.” But like other nearby residents she’s adapted to the changes. In fact, when a hair salon in her old stamping grounds became available, she jumped at the chance to own a business in the part of town she knew the best.

Throughout the years she’s watched businesses at Town and Country come and go. “I’ve seen it empty and full,” she said. “Right now we’ve got some really good tenants.” The mall is home to William Grant Gallery and Framing, Chase Bank and a Postal Annex, among other businesses. Brown said the occupants seem pleased with the new look, and her customers like it as well.

Anchor tenant Safeway inspired the current remodel when it launched a makeover of its own. Manager Dalaina Layne said her store is the last Safeway in Spokane to get a “lifestyle remodel.” According to Layne, the revamped stores better fit the needs of today’s consumers.

“Lifestyle stores are for folks who need to come in and grab quick meals for their families – and for those who do more daily convenience shopping,” she said. “Basically, we gutted the inside and put it back together.”

As a result, the store now features an expanded deli, which includes a China Express and a sandwich bar. The produce section is larger, too, and features even more organic items. Another addition to the store especially delighted other Town and Country businesses. “Our mall neighbors are really excited about our Starbucks,” she said. Safeway celebrated its grand reopening on Saturday.

One of the newest tenants, Ace Hardware, opened its Town and Country store in March 2008. Manager Bill Coughlin said, “We’re doing really well being a brand new store with zero customers when we opened the door.” He’s pleased with the center’s new look. “You can really tell the difference,” he said. “I think it’s attractive and updated.”

Despite the contemporary look, mall tenants said one thing will remain unchanged. “We’re a neighborhood store,” said Safeway’s Layne. “Our daytime shoppers are folks who’ve been shopping here for 30 years.”

Brown agreed and said she’s got customers in their 90s who still drive themselves to her shop for haircuts. And it’s not only the seniors who come in for a trim – it’s their children and grandchildren, too. “We’re in the fourth generation of some families,” she said. She’s pleased to have been able to remain in the area. “It’s been good and it’s worked for me. I’m going to stay put.”


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