Mall to become ‘Town Square Port Orchard’

Grace and Larry Li, the two principals in a group of buyers behind the corporate purchase of the South Kitsap Mall last month, are busy these days putting the final touches on the store they plan to open inside.

Larry Li is a real estate broker with Northwest Cascade Properties, but has been buying antiques for more than a decade.

With the help of his wife, business associate C.J. Buri and store manager Pam Henrich, Fine Estate Interiors will open next month on the mall’s upper floor.

“We’ve been at it hard for a week,” Henrich said. “We’ve already had some visitors.”

The store specializes in European and Asian antiques and Grace Li hopes to find her own niche as one of Port Orchard’s many antique businesses.

“Grace wants this shop to complement any other antique business in Port Orchard,” Buri said.

But the Lis have taken on the even greater responsibility of reversing the overall image of the entire mall, from dim and sparsely populated to a bright, lively shopping arena that Port Orchard residents can be proud of.

“We looked at is as an investment,” said Grace Li. “Plus, we’ve been opening a lot of stores and it makes sense to own one’s own property rather than paying rent.”

The Lis also own stores in South Seattle and Redmond, but they are considering moving to Port Orchard to better look after their latest purchase.

“I’ve always thought the west Puget Sound area was pretty,” Li said. “We will try to buy a home here.”

Li came to the United States from her native Taiwan in 1971. After living in Los Angeles for 10 years, she has lived in Seattle ever since.

She said the most important thing to do right now is completely renovate the mall and update the atmosphere to attract visitors. She has already registered the mall’s new name, Town Square Port Orchard, with the city of Port Orchard and will start advertising, too.

Li is planning to get Port Orchard residents involved in reclaiming the mall by providing promotions and activities, especially around he holidays.

She said she hopes to attract popular national chain stores like Nordstrom, Barnes and Noble and Abercrombie and Fitch.

Obviously, Li said, the mall would have to be expanded.

“I think that part is very exciting,” Buri said.

“This is the only indoor shopping mall in the area,” Li said. “We want people to shop here, enjoy it and use it as their own facility.”

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