Transformation of Totem Lake Mall to The Village at Totem Lake in Kirkland, WA

The Birth of Totem Lake Mall

In the late 1960s, a vision for a new shopping center emerged, destined to leverage the bustling energy of Kirkland, Washington.

This vision took concrete shape with the proposal of Totem Lake Mall in 1968, a project that sought to capitalize on the strategic location along the newly minted Interstate 405. The groundbreaking in June 1972 marked the beginning of a venture that would embed itself in the community’s fabric.

Designed with an eye toward the Pacific Northwest’s rich cultural heritage, Totem Lake Mall was envisioned as more than just a shopping center. Its architecture, inspired by the indigenous longhouses and adorned with elements of Northwest Coast art, was a nod to the area’s original inhabitants.

This thematic approach was the brainchild of Richard C. Bouillon & Co., known for their work on the Lake Forest Park Center. The interior, crafted by John Graham & Company, promised a shopping experience that was both unique and immersive.

The mall’s grand opening in May 1973 was a landmark event, introducing residents to a new era of retail. Anchored by Lamonts, a Pay ‘n Save Corporation department store, Totem Lake Mall quickly became a community staple. Alongside Lamonts, other anchor tenants like Ernst Home & Nursery and Schuck’s Auto Supply added to the mall’s appeal, drawing shoppers with a mix of convenience and novelty.

As the mall expanded, so did its influence. The addition of the Totem Lake Cinemas in 1980 and the expansion of the East Mall in 1974 broadened the mall’s appeal, making it a central hub for things to do in Kirkland, WA.

This growth mirrored the city’s development, with the mall encouraging further annexations and expansions in the surrounding area.

Totem Lake Mall’s early years were marked by ambition and growth, setting the stage for its role as a community cornerstone.

Yet, as the retail landscape evolved, so too would the mall’s fortunes, leading to a story of transformation and renewal in the heart of Kirkland.

Years of Change and Decline

The late 1980s and 1990s brought significant challenges to Totem Lake Mall. In 1988, an attempt to modernize the mall saw its unique wooden facades covered with a bland, white exterior.

This move stripped the center of its character and drew criticism from the community. This renovation was a sign of the times, reflecting a shift away from the mall’s original aesthetic and cultural roots.

Disaster struck in 1997 when a severe snowstorm damaged the roof of the lower mall, leading to extensive water damage.

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The aftermath required a replacement of the original wood parquet flooring with ceramic tile. This change symbolized the mall’s gradual departure from its original design and spirit.

The loss of key tenants further accelerated the mall’s decline. Ernst Home & Nursery, one of the original anchors, shut its doors in 1996 due to bankruptcy.

This closure was a significant blow, leading to the subdivision of its large space into smaller stores like Ross, Cartoys, and Famous Footwear. Despite these new additions, the vacancy rates continued to climb, and the mall’s interior became increasingly lonely.

Totem Lake Mall sign
Totem Lake Mall sign” by Brianhe is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Transformation into The Village at Totem Lake

The turn of the millennium marked a new chapter for the aging shopping center. In 2004, the mall was sold to Developers Diversified Realty (DDR) for $37 million, sparking discussions of a complete overhaul. However, the 2008 economic downturn stalled these plans, leaving the mall in a state of uncertainty.

A breakthrough came in 2015 when Village at Totem Lake LLC, a joint venture between CenterCal and PCCP, LLC, acquired the property.

They announced ambitious plans for a $200 million redevelopment to transform the outdated mall into a vibrant mixed-use complex. This vision included retail spaces, residential units, office spaces, and entertainment venues.

Demolition began in March 2016, starting with the lower mall while preserving the former Ernst space, now occupied by Ulta Beauty and Ross. The redevelopment aimed to retain the community’s essence while introducing modern amenities and services.

By the summer of 2017, the first phase of the new complex, now called The Village at Totem Lake, was unveiled. This phase welcomed back familiar names like Trader Joe’s alongside new additions such as Nordstrom Rack, rejuvenating the area and attracting a new generation of visitors and residents.

A New Era of Shopping and Living

The Village at Totem Lake has emerged as a bustling hub, blending shopping, living, and entertainment. This new phase brought a fresh vibe to Kirkland, with over 800 urban apartments attracting residents right next to their favorite stores and eateries.

Adding a state-of-the-art cinema and various dining options has turned the area into a go-to destination for locals and visitors alike.

Stores like Nordstrom Rack and Trader Joe’s, which opened in October 2017, have been key to this transformation.

They brought back loyal customers and attracted new ones, breathing life into the once-forgotten space. The Village’s layout encourages people to stroll, shop, and dine, making it a lively community center.

The mixed-use approach has proven successful, offering something for everyone. Whether shopping for the latest fashion, grabbing a bite, or catching a movie, The Village at Totem Lake caters to a wide range of tastes and needs. This blend of amenities has revitalized the area and set a new standard for suburban developments.

Totem Lake Malls
Totem Lake Malls” by AR McLin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Current Anchors and Their Stories Inside The Village at Totem Lake

Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack, the off-price retail division of Nordstrom Inc., opened its doors at The Village at Totem Lake in October 2017.

This store brought a range of high-end fashion options to the area at discounted prices, attracting fashion-forward shoppers seeking quality brands without the hefty price tag.

The opening of Nordstrom Rack was a significant milestone for The Village, signaling the area’s transformation into a shopping destination and drawing in crowds from across the Eastside.

Whole Foods 

Whole Foods Market, known for its natural and organic food selections, has become a cornerstone of The Village at Totem Lake. Offering a wide range of healthy eating options, the store caters to the health-conscious residents of Kirkland and surrounding communities.

Whole Foods provides grocery shopping in a modern and inviting environment. Its local product offerings and sustainability initiatives contribute to the community vibe.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has a long-standing history with the residents of Kirkland, having been a part of the community long before the redevelopment. Its relocation within The Village at Totem Lake has allowed the popular grocery chain to continue serving its loyal customer base while reaching new shoppers. Known for its unique food items, friendly staff, and nautical themes, Trader Joe’s remains a favorite for those seeking quality groceries at reasonable prices.

ROSS Dress for Less

ROSS Dress for Less offers various clothing, accessories, and home goods at discounted prices. As part of The Village at Totem Lake, ROSS caters to budget-conscious shoppers looking for deals on brand-name items.

The store’s presence in the mall aligns with the development’s goal of providing a diverse range of shopping options to cater to all tastes and budgets.

ULTA Beauty

ULTA Beauty, a well-known beauty store chain, provides a one-stop-shop experience for cosmetics, skincare, and salon services. Since its opening at The Village at Totem Lake, ULTA has attracted beauty enthusiasts from all over the region.

The store’s wide selection of beauty products, combined with its in-store salon and beauty consultations, has made it a go-to destination for those looking to pamper themselves.

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble, one of the leading book retailers in the United States, offers a vast selection of books, magazines, and educational materials.

The store’s presence in The Village at Totem Lake brings a cultural and educational dimension to the mall, providing a quiet escape for readers and a community space for book signings, readings, and other literary events.

The Village at Totem Lake
The Village at Totem Lake” by Bri is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Cinemark, a motion picture exhibition industry leader, offers a state-of-the-art movie-watching experience at The Village at Totem Lake.

With comfortable seating, advanced sound and projection systems, and a selection of the latest blockbusters and independent films, Cinemark has become a popular entertainment destination for moviegoers in the area.

The theater adds to the mall’s appeal as a place for leisure and entertainment, rounding out the shopping experience with a touch of Hollywood glamour.

Famous Dining Options at The Village at Totem Lake

The Village at Totem Lake offers diverse dining options catering to all tastes and preferences. For coffee lovers, 203°F Coffee Co. provides a warm, inviting space to enjoy expertly crafted coffee and pastries.

Those searching for a unique tea experience can head to Don’t Yell at Me, where various bubble teas and refreshing beverages await.

Dessert lovers will find joy at The Sweetside, with its cakes and baked goods. At the same time, See’s Candies offers a selection of chocolates and candies for those looking to indulge their sweet tooth.

The fast-casual scene is vibrant and varied. Chipotle Mexican Grill delivers customizable Mexican dishes, perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.

Pizza enthusiasts can create their masterpiece at Mod Pizza, where various toppings and fast service combine for a delightful dining experience.

Panda Express provides a familiar array of Chinese-American dishes, ideal for those seeking comfort food on the go. Joe’s Burgers is the place for classic American burgers and shakes.

Asian cuisine is well-represented with Bok A Bok Fried Chicken, offering Korean-inspired fried chicken and sides. Kati Vegan Thai caters to the health-conscious with a plant-based menu of Thai favorites.

Umigawa Sushi and Seoul Meat Co. provide authentic Japanese and Korean dining experiences. At the same time, Silverlake Ramen invites guests to savor traditional ramen bowls.

Italian and European flavors shine at Due Cucina, where diners can enjoy modern Italian dishes, and Serious Pie, known for its artisanal pizzas and unique dough recipe.

Sweetgreen offers fresh, organic salads and bowls for healthier options, and Pressed is the go-to spot for cold-pressed juices and vegan snacks.

American classics and comfort food are not to be missed, with Stack 571 Burger & Whiskey Bar serving gourmet burgers alongside an extensive whiskey selection.

Salt & Straw, an artisanal ice cream shop, delights with innovative flavors and quality ingredients. Lastly, Hanoon introduces diners to Middle Eastern cuisine, offering a variety of dishes infused with traditional spices and flavors.

Living Options at The Village at Totem Lake

The Village at Totem Lake offers a variety of living options designed to cater to a range of lifestyles and preferences, blending modern living with convenience and luxury.

The residential options within this vibrant community provide an unparalleled living experience right in the heart of Kirkland.

Aspect at Totem Lake Apartments presents a chic and modern living space, appealing to the most discerning residents. The apartments feature wood-style plank flooring, chef-inspired kitchens with polished quartz countertops, and spa-like bathrooms, ensuring a luxurious living experience.

Including high-end amenities like sleek stainless-steel Whirlpool appliances and a full-size in-home washer and dryer adds to the convenience, making these pet-friendly studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans an ideal choice for those seeking comfort and style.

North at Totem Lake Apartments presents carefully crafted studios and one- and two-bedroom layouts with custom finishes and smart home technology. Located at the center of the new Village at Totem Lake, these spacious apartments provide a unique lifestyle opportunity.

Residents can enjoy sleek, high-end amenities that make everyday living effortless, surrounded by the master-planned community’s premier shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Bell Totem Lake stands at the center of the action, offering polished modern interiors and top-of-the-line finishes in its 202-unit complex.

Just steps away from the premier amenities of the 26-acre lifestyle development, Bell Totem Lake combines the luxury of modern living with the convenience of having Kirkland’s best right at your doorstep.

This location is perfect for those who value being in the heart of the community, with easy access to all that The Village at Totem Lake has to offer.

These living options provide residents with unique features and amenities to enhance the living experience and cater to the community’s diverse needs.

Whether you’re looking for modern design, smart home technology, or a comfortable place to call home, The Village at Totem Lake has something for everyone.

Recent Highlights and Community Events at The Village at Totem Lake

The Village at Totem Lake continues to thrive as a community hub in Kirkland, Washington, with events and developments that have marked 2023 and the beginning of 2024. 

One of the notable events at The Village is the “Cereal-sly Delicious Series at Salt & Straw,” which takes place every Saturday at 10 am.

This unique event brings back the nostalgia of childhood Saturday mornings filled with cartoons and cereal but with a twist. Salt & Straw, known for their innovative ice cream flavors, invites the community to this creative and delicious celebration.

SkinSpirit, a premier destination for skin care and medical spa services, celebrated its first anniversary at The Village on March 8th, 2023.

The celebration was open to the public, offering special service pricing and a chance to connect with the SkinSpirit team, highlighting the community’s support for local businesses and wellness services.

Additionally, The Village at Totem Lake has initiated the Totem Lake Run Club, which meets every Tuesday and Thursday.

Participants gathered before Lululemon at 6 pm for a pre-run warm-up before heading out to run on the Cross Kirkland Corridor. This club promotes health and fitness and fosters community among Kirkland residents.

These events and activities underscore The Village at Totem Lake’s role as a central gathering place where residents can shop, dine, and participate in community events.

As The Village continues to evolve, it remains committed to offering diverse experiences and fostering connections among the people of Kirkland.

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