BOTHELL — Country Village will close April 2019 after years of uncertainty surrounding its future.
The fate of the shopping center has been in limbo since at least 2015 when the Loveless family began looking at selling the property.
Country Village co-owner Leeann Tesorieri said at the time that increasing property taxes forced them to sell the back six acres to housing developers. It had previously housed Iron Horse Railway, a novelty train track that also offered pony rides. Some 92 townhouses are currently being constructed behind Country Village.
The Loveless family signed a letter of intent with a townhouse developer in 2017 to sell the property. Bryan Loveless said last year that the family’s health issues also played a role in their decision to sell the property.
The family did not have a comment regarding the center’s closing date.
Some businesses have already relocated, but many others are staying the course.
Teresa Howard owns the Practical Sparrow Cafe, which she opened in 2016. On a sunny weekday afternoon, she was busy in her kitchen preparing meals for her customers.
“We’re going to be here until the end,” she said.
But already word of the closure next year has been affecting business. Since articles have been coming out in major regional news outlets, Howard said fewer customers have been coming through her doors.
“Business here is easily down 25 percent over the last year,” she said.
Howard said while some businesses may be leaving, many others will be open until April 2019.
Down the road is Julie Stewart’s business, Keepsake Cottage Fabrics. Keepsake is one of the oldest shops in Country Village after it was opened in 1985. Stewart has been working at the store since 1989 when she became a partner. Steward wants to stay in Bothell but hasn’t found another location.
“Rents in Bothell are pretty high,” she said.
There are around 40 local businesses in Country Village that will be displaced. Stewart said she knows of four that have relocated so far. Of those, only one stayed in Bothell and the other three relocated to other cities in the north end. A group of business owners were talking with a landlord in downtown Bothell about renting a location as a group, but that plan fell through, Stewart said.
“It’s kind of every man for himself here,” she said.
Country Village has been a staple of the Bothell business community, bringing in locals and tourists alike, Stewart said. Groups of tourists especially from Japan, Australia and Alaska seem to gravitate to the center.
On a recent afternoon, two women were looking for a restaurant to grab some lunch. While they wished to remain unnamed, one said she drives to Country Village from Lynnwood. They said they were unaware of the closure next year.
“A shame, because this is a great place to visit,” one said.
Many business owners and employees declined to talk about the closure for this story. Many said they were unhappy with the coverage of the closure in recent months.
Other local businesses have had trouble finding locations in the city after they were forced to leave, as reported in an article from 2016 about four businesses that relocated when the city sold a small strip mall to be developed. Mad Cow Yarn moved to Lake Forest Park and Dawn’s Candy and Cake moved to Lynnwood.
It is unclear whether the remaining business owners at Country Village will be able to find new locations for their stores in Bothell.
Other efforts are under way to preserve portions of Country Village. The city’s Landmark Preservation Board met on April 24 to review options to retain two buildings on the property. The Ericksen House and the Carriage House in the village were once part of a farmstead where Gerhard and Dorothea Ericksen lived. The couple were early Bothell residents and lived at the property between 1913 and 1920. The preservation board will discuss and propose alternatives to demolishing the houses.