Mall finds long-term tenant

OLYMPIA - A new store is expected to occupy about 16,000 square feet in the former Mervyns space at Westfield Capital mall, the first such tenant in the building since Mervyns left South Sound four years ago.

The new tenant, XXI Forever, is a retailer of apparel and accessories for teens through young adults that is set to open on the first floor about midsummer, Westfield Capital spokeswoman Jessica Curtis said.

XXI Forever is operated by Forever 21 Inc. of Los Angeles. A spokesperson for the company could not be reached Wednesday, although the company operates other stores in the state, including in Tukwila and Seattle, according to its Web site.

The new store’s arrival ends a period in which temporary or seasonal businesses had occupied a portion of the former Mervyns’ space, including a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, Halloween retailers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency known for offering assistance during natural disasters, Curtis said.

“This is the first permanent tenant in this space since Mervyns,” she said. Still, the building will have about 30,000 square feet of space left for rent after XXI Forever moves in, including space on the second floor, she said.

Mervyns closed two locations at the end of 2006, a store at South Sound Center in Lacey, which was later replaced by a Kohl’s, and the Mervyns on the west side of the mall.

Construction for the new store started in December and as part of the changes there, a new entrance will be built on the north side of the mall, near XXI Forever, said Kevin Beideman, construction manager for Westfield.

The entrance will be similar in design to the one that greets customers near the movie theaters and will begin to take shape in the next 45 to 60 days, he said.

The work also has generated jobs for construction workers. Ten to 12 workers are at the site now, but that could grow to 20 as the project advances, Beideman said. That’s a small, but encouraging step for Washington’s construction industry, which has shed about 38,000 jobs in this recession, including 1,900 in December, state Employment Security Department data show.

Shoppers, too, at the mall Wednesday, said they were looking forward to the new store.

Janay Hill, 20, of Olympia likes the variety of items sold by the store, although she acknowledged she was more familiar with the company’s Forever 21 stores than its XXI Forever stores.

Kanani Flores, 22, of Lacey said she no longer will have to travel out of the area to shop at the store. She also called it stylish and affordable. “All you could do was order online before,” Flores said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403