New retail activity may resume at Birch Bay Square now that the mall is under new ownership.
According to a real estate document filed last week at the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office, North America 6666 Investment (Birch Bay) LLP purchased the property from Union Bank for just under $8 million. The property includes most of Birch Bay Square and about 16 acres to the north of the mall.
The bank took over the mall last year after the previous owners, the Ware family of Mount Vernon and Birch Bay Square I and II LLC, defaulted on nearly $20 million in loans originally issued by Frontier Bank of Everett. Union Bank took over Frontier after the Everett bank failed in April 2010.
The new owner is a group of several investors out of British Columbia, said Patrick Starr, a real estate agent who helped broker the deal. Starr is a managing broker out of the Bellingham John L. Scott office.
Starr said the first order of business is to fill the 140,000 square foot retail center that’s near the Birch Bay-Lynden Road exit of Interstate 5. It’s currently at 42 percent occupancy, but Starr said the company has a waiting list of about 10 companies expressing interest in leasing space. Some-times a property can be difficult to lease when it has gone through a foreclosure process and falls under the ownership of a bank.
Along with leasing the vacant spaces, Starr said the investment group is interested in getting input from the community about what type of mall it should be. The center was once known as Peace Arch Factory Outlets, catering to Canadian shoppers. The mall was acquired by the Ware family in 2005, which then gave the center a multi-million-dollar facelift in order to cater it more to Birch Bay and Blaine area residents. The change to a more local focus was evident in 2009, when The Markets opened a grocery store in the north section of the mall in 2009.
“They plan to rely on local input as they make decisions about tenants,” Starr said. “They have no preconceived idea at this point; they are looking at what’s best for the mall over the long-term.”
The property not involved in the sale includes Jack in the Box, Bob’s Burgers & Brew and the Windermere buildings at Birch Bay Square, along with one small empty pad.
For retailers interested in what’s available or other information about Birch Bay Square, call Starr at 360-961-2671 or send an email to email@example.com.