Don Zimmerman is a man with plans.
Zimmerman, the owner of Lake Kathryn Village Mall, is in the process of nearly doubling the mall’s retail capacity. A new building will house one space of 12,000 square feet plus an additional 12,000 square feet divided into smaller 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot units. Construction is expected to be completed this fall.
“I like expanding and doing things,” Zimmerman said. “And we are located at the hub of the wheel, between Belfair, Port Orchard, Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula.”
He thinks retail space, with lease rates that are half that of Gig Harbor, will be filled fairly quickly. Although he has not marketed the space yet, he has already had inquiries.
Zimmerman, pharmacist and owner of Cost Less Pharmacy, did not start out as a developer. He leased his original business location for Purdy Pharmacy in the 1970s, and business was doing fine.
“I hadn’t planned to move,” he said, “but the cost of the lease kept going up and I decided it was time to own my own building.” He bought 30 acres at the Lake Kathryn site with Mike Salatino in 1977.
They didn’t build until the early 1980s. “Interest rates were 21 percent then, and so we waited,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman and Salatino named the development after their wives, both named Kathryn. The original building still stands with the Food Market and Cost Less Pharmacy, flanked by the smaller Minter Veterinary and Salon 302.
Zimmerman later bought out Salatino and Walt Schmidt, who was also a co-owner at one time. He now owns 94 percent of the development, with college roommate Gary Bisceglia as his partner.
The development has grown since its origins. The post office moved there from its original Wauna location in 1991. The Burger King franchise opened in 2005.
Zimmerman has purchased an additional 17 acres over the last 15 years. Approximately five years ago, Pierce County informed him that if he wanted to develop any further, he would have to install a traffic signal either at the entrance to Lake Kathryn or at the intersection of State Route 302 and 94th Avenue NW. He decided the intersection was the most sensible place for the light, and he also built the new road leading to it from the mall.
The master plan for the entire property has been through several iterations, said B.Z. Zenczak, of Zenczak & Partners Architects in Tacoma, who has worked on plans for the site since 1986. Shortly before Sept. 11, Safeway was very close to building an anchor grocery store on the site, but the uncertain climate put a hold on the plan. They reconsidered a few years later, as the Great Recession hit. Zimmerman doesn’t know if a major grocer will eventually build at Lake Kathryn, but if one does, there is suitable acreage.
The initial permit for commercial development was approved in 2016 and the building permit was approved in May 2017. Site development started last fall but was delayed because of heavy rains. The project is now moving forward and Zimmerman hopes to have spaces ready to lease this fall. The building will provide a shell, with lessees finishing their spaces according to their needs.
Once construction on the new building is completed, Zimmerman plans to give his current building a facelift. Plans include changing the facade, replacing the metal supports and adding curves to the sidewalks. “We are ready to bring the old building into the 21st century,” he said.