New life for Circuit City boxes

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Print this page Paula C. Squires

Staying true to its retail roots, a vacant Circuit City Store in Chesapeake will soon be home to a new, upscale U.S. Coast Guard Retail Exchange. The Coast Guard has signed a 15-year lease on the 42,697-square-foot building in the Crossways Shopping Center, in the heart of Chesapeake’s busy Greenbrier shopping corridor. 

The building, like others across the country, went dark after Circuit City went out of business and closed all of its stores in March. It will be converted into a department-store format, in what the Coast Guard says will be a first-of-its-kind retail shopping experience for military personnel in the Chesapeake area.

With modern merchandising and fixtures, the new exchange will offer quality goods including brand-name cosmetics, men’s and women’s fashions, and accessories such as handbags by Dooney & Bourke. In addition, there will be space for appliances and a 3,500-square-foot electronics department with a surround-sound room. Sporting goods and jewelry also will be available.

Because fewer military personnel live on base close to exchange facilities where they can shop tax free, Coast Guard officials said they wanted a location convenient to Hampton Road’s large military community. “This location will be closer to where the customers live and will be much more convenient for our shoppers,” said Bob McGinty, director of operations for the Coast Guard Exchange System. “We are working to differentiate this from the typical exchange and enhance the shopping experience of our customers.”

The center will be open to all branches of the military, active duty and retired, and to members of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s located close to the Coast Guard’s existing Finance Center and newly expanded administrative offices for the exchange system.

A grand opening is planned for Oct. 30. The center expects to hire 50 to 70 workers by then. The Coast Guard Exchange also plans to break ground soon on a new exchange in Elizabeth City, N.C. 

S. L. Nusbaum Realty Co. and Thalhimer, a Cushman and Wakefield Alliance member, represented the Coast Guard in the transaction. “The Greenbrier is the No. 1 retail trade area in Hampton Roads, and this is one of the prime boxes. so it’s a win win for people in the military and also for the Greenbrier trade area,” said Tommy Drew, a sales and leasing agent for Nusbaum. In Hampton Roads, this is the second vacant Circuit City store being eyed for reuse. The city of Virginia Beach has expressed an interest in buying a vacant building adjacent to Virginia Beach Town Center for use as a light rail station. 


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