LYNNWOOD, Wash. — The Holiday season at the Alderwood Mall means some people are quite literally "home for the holidays."
328 apartment homes to be exact.
Twin 6 story towers called Avalon Alderwood Place are connected by a skybridge and sit perched atop a new Dave & Busters restaurant.
A new Shake Shack is on the way, as is popular Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao.
"It's very unique. This is the first one that we've done in the country," said Avalon Senior Portfolio Director Megan Robins.
It all began in the rubble of an old Sears department store that was shuttered and torn down at Alderwood.
Today, the development is giving new life to the mall.
"I think there is so much space where stores are going dark," said Robins. "It creates a big opportunity for us to partner with mall owners and provide more housing where it's needed."
With light rail coming here in 2024, Lynnwood is uniquely suited for this sort of project.
Avalon is drawing tenants tired of downtown Seattle.
Once the trains are running workers can be downtown in 15 minutes. Less time in your car means more time for yourself with just about anything you need just a few steps away.
Analysts say the old mall model simply doesn't work anymore.
"Today's consumer is living a faster paced life. They have higher expectations around convenience and it's our job to offer them that," said Adam Tritt, chief development officer for retail business at Brookfield Properties, which owns Alderwood and more than 120 other malls across the country. "What worked 30 years ago isn't going to work today, and it won't work 10 years from now. We have to keep modernizing."
For years economists have been predicting the "death of the American mall."
The explosion of Amazon and demise of department stores were seen to be harbingers of doom.
There are only about 700 malls remaining in America, down from 2,500 in in the 1980s.
So is Alderwood the future of the American mall? Kind of.
Not every defunct department store will become an apartment complex, but malls will have to evolve and become more of an "event," said Candice Chevaillier with Lee and Associates Commercial Real Estate Services.
"The event is to come dine, be seen, be out and then have entertainment. It has to be more of a lifestyle center," she said.
At Alderwood, at least, it appears that reports of the death of the American mall have been greatly exaggerated.
Rents at Avalon start at $2,395 per month for a studio.
A 750-square-foot, one bedroom is $2,500, and a two bedroom goes for $3,500.
The development has been open exactly one year. It is 96% occupied.