New-look P.O. mall a destination, with shopping

The first phase of renovations at the historic Town Square Mall Port Orchard emphasizes new shopping trends.

Developer Kane Fenner said people now look for destination spots, with shopping the secondary experience. It used to be the other way around.

“It’s the reverse now,” he said. “Our sense is that people want a destination to recreate, and if there’s a selection of food and things to do, let’s go, and we’ll figure it out when we’re there.”

As part of that, a patio is being built near the mall’s restaurants. So rather than planning an outing of store shopping, people will plan around a dining experience with side shopping.

Another part of that is construction is underway for a new ax-throwing space on the second level.

The new modern vision was brought by Fenner and Ray Klein. They are with the commercial development company Zaxium, which bought the mall in April of 2021. At the time it was a shadow of its former self. Several longtime tenants had departed, and the building was in need of a new roof among other repairs.

The biggest part of the renovation was the facade. Fenner said architects called the building a “patchwork” in its former state, with everything from the paint to the siding to the awning a mix of fading colors and designs.

The new uniform look features wood paneling made of an aluminum siding product. The siding also has attachments to better enable sign updates without having to add new holes into the product. “It’s very durable, but still gives you a sense of that Northwest modern wood, glass and steel,” Fenner said.

The mall features a new color theme from red to blue to give better curb appeal. The color is also incorporated in the new logo, which Fenner said was changed “to give it a new, crisp look.”

Also adding to the improved look is an excavation project at the front of the building that removed a section of concrete to increase visibility into the mall.

The benefits of the exterior construction and increased appeal have resulted in higher foot traffic already, Fenner said. “Certainly, the buzz on the street has increased,” he said. “People who’ve not been here for ten or twenty years are taking a second look.”

Fenner said the goal is to attract new tenants while also working with current tenants to give the best business experience possible.

“As best as we can, we’re trying to find spaces for all the tenants who want to stay,” Fenner said. “We’re making the place better with the intent to increase foot traffic, and that should reflect in higher sales for the tenants.”

Fenner said the mall is close to ready for an unveiling “as a place to go and be and spend time.” The new look is set to be unveiled by the owners, along with Mayor Rob Putaansuu, at a ribbon cutting Nov. 21 at 11 a.m.

While it’s just the first steps in a restoration at 1700 Mile Hill Drive that will take years to complete, it’s already making an impact.

“We’re in it for the duration,” Fenner said. “This is, in our mind, a long-term hold to make it a spot to create memories; a spot to spend leisure time.”

Fenced-off construction shows where the new patio section will be.

Fenced-off construction shows where the new patio section will be.