03 April 2023

Kitsap Mall, Silverdale, WA

 An extant asset

At the end of an hour-long ferry ride from Seattle’s Coleman Dock to the Kitsap Peninsula is the city of Bremerton.  Home to a large Naval facility and quite a few Seattle commuters, it boasts a lovely waterfront and a historic downtown business district.  But further away from the waterfront, in the nearby town of Silverdale, sits the area’s retail hub anchored by Kitsap Mall.

1- The main entrance.  2- The Sears store, now closed.  3- Macy's.  4- JCPenney and its distinctive entrance adornment. 

Kitsap Mall was quite a find.  On the surface, it can definitely be mistaken for just another run of the mill indoor shopping center, but I soon realized that what I had walked upon was a treasure trove of subtle references to the predominant retail architecture of the eighties.  The exterior was enveloped in mud brown brick, popular during the decade of shoulder pads and narrow ties, with a JCPenney darkened glass entrance portico very reminiscent of the time.  I’ve seen the same element at JCPenney outlets located at its eighties peers Lynnhaven Mall, Madison Square and Riverchase Galleria.

Kitsap Mall lease plan ca 2011.  View the full PDF version here.

Upon entering the enclosed concourse, I was giddy to see more nods to the eighties that had not been renovated into oblivion.  The floors were dressed in a variety of ceramic tiles in darker greys and beiges.  They all stared upward toward ceilings and skylights trimmed in warm wooden tones.  All of this surrounded seating areas, some sunken, highlighting wooden benches rather than sofas and live greenery rather than tabletops from which one can recharge their devices.  

Interior scenes.

Kitsap Mall opened in 1985, effectively shifting the commercial center of the region from the larger city of Bremerton to Silverdale.  Lamont’s, Sears and The Bon Marché, the original anchors, were soon joined by Mervyn’s and JCPenney in 1988 and 1989, respectively.  After 2000, Lamont’s was rechristened Gottschalk’s with The Bon Marché becoming Macy’s.  When Gottschalks closed for good in 2006, it was supplanted by Barnes & Noble and World Market.  Mervyn’s was later replaced by Kohl’s while Sears, the mall’s last original anchor, was shuttered in 2019 with Winco taking over in 2022.  

Kitsap Mall Mallmanac ca 2016.  View the full PDF version here.
Kitsap Mall lease plan ca 2021.  View the full PDF version here.

Kitsap Mall is a rarity in the sense that none of its original five anchor spots now sits empty or has been replaced with more small mall shops.  The rest of the center still seems to be doing well and, though I know it won’t stay that way forever, I hope it remains just as it is for a little while longer.  I like knowing that there’s a throwback to the days of Fast Times at Ridgemont High so close by.

Ceramic floor tile elements from another time.

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