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Renovation of Springfield Mall is one of NoVa’s largest retail projects

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Print this page by M.J. McAteer
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Springfield Mall will be renamed Springfield Town Center.
Architectural rendering courtesy Vornado Realty Trust

“I’ve never been happier to see mass destruction,” says Jeffrey C. McKay, a supervisor in Fairfax County “Only three stores remain open, and the rest is gutted to steel studs.”

McKay is talking about Springfield Mall, an aged eyesore in his Lee District that has been slated for renovation for years. Now, the first phase of the Vornado Realty Trust project finally is underway, and it is the biggest event in a Northern Virginia retail market that otherwise is showing little change.  The project is expected to cost $200 million and to take 10 to 15 years.

The first phase of the mall redo will include a health club, movie theaters and a food court. It should reopen in 2014. The parking lot also is being repaved and pedestrian and transportation access improved. The eventual goal is a mixed-use development that will include residences and a hotel. McKay says that the mall, to be renamed the Springfield Town Center, “will have all the big names that you’ll see on higher-end retail centers.”

The project is a bright spot in a flat market. CoStar Group, a Washington, D.C.-based provider of commercial real estate data, reports that in the first two quarters of 2013, vacancy rates in Northern Virginia’s retail market remained steady at 4.9 percent while rental rates were static at $23.53 per square foot.

Another major mall redevelopment is in the works by Forest City, the owner, developer and manager of Ballston Common Mall in Arlington. In September, it purchased the Macy’s Furniture store for $13.4 million in a move to jumpstart the redevelopment of that mall. Forest City wants to transform the 27-year-old, 580,000-square-foot mall into a transit-oriented, mixed-use center. The company is seeking approval for its development plan from the Arlington County Board of Supervisors.

More good news for shoppers in that part of NoVa is the coming of a Wegman’s to the Fort Belvoir area. The supermarket will anchor a 350,000-square-foot retail and office development, Hilltop Village Center, slated to open next year. It will be the grocer’s seventh Northern Virginia outlet.

Otherwise, the area’s busiest retail activity has occurred at Tysons, where 250,000 square feet of retail space called Tysons West — which delivered in the first quarter of the year — is now 48 percent occupied. The largest tenant, occupying 80,000 square feet, is Walmart.

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