Kelso’s Three Rivers Mall, which has struggled in a new age of shopping and has tried to reinvent itself for years, has new owners.
The 50-acre property changed hands Wednesday in a sale between long-time owners Brookfield Properties and new owners Three Rivers Village, LLC. The terms of the sale were not immediately available.
“We are excited about the opportunity to reinvest into the local community,” according to a prepared statement from Three Rivers. “The Three Rivers Mall is a phenomenal location with what we believe can be tremendous upside. … Our goal is to work with the city leaders of Kelso, to attract new businesses through strategic investments, that will create additional job opportunities and make Three Rivers Mall an exciting destination for Kelso and the surrounding communities.”
The identities of the Three Rivers LLC owners were not immediately disclosed.
Three Rivers Village is based in Arizona, though the company has ties to Southwest Washington, according to the release. The release did not provide further details on those connections.
The company specializes in commercial real estate management, redevelopment of commercial property and construction.
Although the new owners’ plans are for the mall are not public, Kelso City Councilman and former mayor David Futcher said he is optimistic the sale will mean new investment in Kelso.
“People in retail don’t usually buy something without having a plan to do something with it,” Futcher said. “It’s not likely ... that they want to buy it and leave it the way it is. Any kind of redevelopment would be positive.”
Futcher added that the property is in a “prime” location along Interstate 5, but the enclosed mall “doesn’t seem to meet what people want right now.”
“I hope that they’ve got a plan that will bring it up to today’s tastes and allow some more retail growth there,” Futcher said.
The Three Rivers Mall opened in 1987 with four anchor tenants: JC Penney, Sears, Macy’s and Emporium. Only one of those big boxes remains open today.
Like many other indoor shopping centers, the Kelso mall has struggled to attract shoppers and retain tenants in the modern, online shopping era.
Signs of the mall’s economic struggle showed in the early 2000s. In 2002 the occupancy rate for small tenant shops fell to less than 70%, according to a Daily News article.
Just a year later, the mall lost its first anchor store when Emporium’s parent company went bankrupt. It took more than a decade to secure a long-term tenant for the 42,000-square-foot shop. Sportsman’s Warehouse opened in the space in 2014.
Around that same time, Sears closed and was quickly replaced by the Regal Cinemas 12-plex movie theater.
The mall lost its third long-time anchor in 2016 when Macy’s closed. That spot remains vacant.
Nonetheless, the mall has continued to attract smaller tenants, and a handful of new businesses have opened in the mall over the last year. That includes a scrapbook and craft store, as well as a “paint and sip” art studio.
Today, the mall has 36 stores and restaurants, including some off-site locations such as Red Lobster and Pier 1 Imports.
Three Rivers Mall outlived the enclosed mall that previously stood in the Triangle Shopping Center in Longview, which opened in 1964. However, the Triangle Mall ultimately found success after it was redeveloped into an outlet mall around 2003.
The redevelopment breathed new life into the property, attracting Ross Dress for Less, Bed Bath & Beyond, PETCO and other national sellers. It even drew some businesses out of the Three Rivers Mall and into the Longview shopping center, such as Big 5 Sporting Goods, which moved to to the Triangle Center in 2013.