BELLEVUE SHOPPING SQUARE
Bellevue Way and Northeast 8th Street
King County (Bellevue), Washington

Construction commenced on Greater Seattle's first post-war shopping facility in 1945, as the great global conflict was drawing to a close. BELLEVUE SHOPPING SQUARE was to occupy a 34.3 acre site, located 9 miles east of center city Seattle. Bellevue's Kemper Freeman, Sr. and his father Miller got permission from the US government to build a movie theater, utilizing the scarce construction materials then available.

The first operational BELLEVUE business, the Sterling Entertainment Organization Bel-Vue Theatre, opened March 20, 1946. On August 15 of the same year, sixteen stores were dedicated, including a Seattle-based Frederick & Nelson. This store was the first suburban shopping center branch of Chicago-based Marshall Field & Company (with F & N having been a subsidiary since 1929).

BELLEVUE SHOPPING SQUARE became part of the newly-incorporated city of Bellevue in March 1953. Additional stores were added over the following years. J.C. Penney opened in 1955. Frederick & Nelson expanded into a 3-level (158,000 square foot) building on August 8, 1956. Nordstrom's Shoes made its debut in 1958.

By the late 1950s, BELLEVUE SQUARE ("shopping" having been dropped from the official moniker) had expanded into a fifty-store retail hub. Tenants included Clark's Crabapple Restaurant, Karl Larson's Village Shoes, Florsheim Shoes, Mamselle & Mr. Paul's Hair Design, Thompson's Drugs, Pacific National Bank, a J.J. Newberry 5 & 10 and A & P supermarket. A 2-level (67,500 square foot) Nordstrom Best was dedicated December 1, 1967.

CROSSROADS CENTER {3.2 miles northeast, in Bellevue} was completed in 1964. Subsequent retail rivals for BELLEVUE SQUARE included TOTEM LAKE MALL (1973) {6.5 miles northeast, in Kirkland}, FACTORIA MALL (1975) {3 miles southeast, also in Bellevue} and -eventually- REDMOND TOWN CENTER (1997) {5.2 miles northeast, in Redmond}.

Kemper Development embarked on a total rebuild of their shopping center in 1979. Sections were demolished as a fully-enclosed mall was built. The Frederick & Nelson and Nordstrom (Best) structures were retained and became part of the new mall.

Three newly-built anchor stores were added to BELLEVUE SQUARE. The first was a 3-level (180,000 square foot) Nordstrom, which was dedicated November 5, 1981. This was followed by a 3-level (200,000 square foot) J.C. Penney, on August 18, 1982.

Seattle-based The Bon Marche opened a 3-level (180,000 square foot) store in August 1984. With its completion, BELLEVUE SQUARE encompassed 1,090,000 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and forty-five stores and services.

Frederick &  Nelson closed on May 25, 1992. New York City-based Saks Fifth Avenue was courted as a replacement, but the deal fell through. It was, then, decided not to lease the anchor space to a single retailer.

The building was sectioned into forty-five inline stores, with the first opening in August 1993. Eventually there would be F.A.O. Schwarz, Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers. The basement was utilized as a (51,000 square foot) The Bon Marche Home Store.

BELLEVUE SQUARE was refurbished in the mid-1990s. Nordstrom was expanded by 90,000 square feet (now encompassing 270,000 square feet). The most recent mall expansion was completed in the year 2000. THE CORNER AT BELLEVUE SQUARE encompassed 120,000 square feet on 2 levels. Stores included Crate & Barrel, P.F. Chang's China Bistro and ZTejas Southwestern Grill. The mall now spanned 1.3 million square feet and housed over two hundred stores and services.

The Bon Marche was rebranded as a Bon-Macy's on August 1, 2003 and received a bona fide Macy's nameplate March 6, 2005. A 40 million dollar renovation of the shopping venue got underway in 2007.

No new retail area was added, but several of the major inline stores, such as Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic and Pottery Barn, expanded into adjoining space. Likewise, the interior of the mall was given a facelift. New flooring, lighting, seating and landscaping were installed. The project was completed in November 2008.

J.C. Penney had operated at BELLEVUE SQUARE since 1955. The mall's circa-1982 store was shuttered November 1, 2014. The building was gutted and remade into the "South Common Shops", which housed 2 levels of inline stores.

A (16,000 square foot), Tokyo-based Uniqlo became the first to open for business, on November 6, 2015. It was followed by the dedication of a 1-level (26,000 square foot), Arteixo, Spain-based Zara, on November 11, 2015. On September 14, 2016, a 1-level (30,500 square foot) 365 by Whole Foods Market welcomed its first shoppers.

Sources:

Eastside Heritage Center, Bellevue, Washington
http://www.bellevuesquare.com
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.neighborhoods.com /Bellevue Square History
http://www.historylink.org /Essay # 4143/Alan J. Stein/February 2003
"Bellevue: Its First 100 Years"/Lucille McDonald/Bellevue Historical Society, 2000
King County, Washington tax assessor website