Birch Bay Square finds new owner

Published on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 by Brandy Kiger

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At long last, Birch Bay Square has found an owner. 

A Canadian investment group, collectively known as North American 6666 Investment (Birch Bay), LLP signed on the dotted line on Thursday, October 25, and purchased the 140,000 square foot retail center for just under $8 million dollars. 

The purchase included most of Birch Bay Square – with the exception of Jack in the Box, Bob’s Burgers & Brew, or the Windermere building – and a 16.7 acre parcel north of the mall. The retail center, located five miles south of the border, was built in 1993 and was originally known as Peace Arch Factory Outlets. The mall was acquired by the Ware family of Mount Vernon in 2005, and subsequently given a multi-million dollar makeover.

Since then, the property has been in flux. After a steady decline in occupancy, the Ware family and Birch Bay Square I and II LLC, defaulted on $19.9 million in loans. In 2010, Union Bank of San Francisco foreclosed on the property and took ownership. The loans were originally issued by the now-defunct Frontier Bank of Everett. 

Heather Campbell, owner of Bow Wow & Woofs, a pet boutique, has been a tenant of the property for five years and said that the uncertainty of the situation left many storeowners indecisive about whether to stay or go. “I often asked myself do I stay or do I go? Did I make the right decision?” she said. “It has been stressful watching stores departing and no one willing to talk to you. We’ve seen tenants leave and leave and leave and no one replacing them. It’s extremely stressful as a business.”

Ultimately, loyalty to her customers kept her in the mall, and now that having a new owner for the property is a reality, Campbell is excited for the future. “We’re thrilled. Hopefully they’ll be able to attract some new tenants. I always get comments about what a shame it is that it’s such a beautiful shopping center, but few stores,” she said. 

Realtor Patrick Starr said that the top priority for the investment group was to get in good tenants and attempt to revitalize the mall. “When it was bank-owned, it was difficult [for potential tenants] to get in there,” he said. There’s lots of space to be had, as it is currently only 42 percent filled, but Starr said the new owners are eager to get started.“The plan is to get it full and get it going. Right now we’re just gathering infomration, and trying to see what would be the best mix [of retailers] for the area. They want to see what people want and what will work,” Starr said.

Retailers who are interested in available space, or in other information about Birch Bay Square, can contact Starr at 360/961-2671 or starrpro@msn.com.