Shoppers who are new to downtown Silver Spring might not notice the five-story, indoor mall tucked beside the Ben & Jerry’s on Ellsworth Drive. The former City Place Mall is getting a huge revitalization from developer Petrie Richardson Ventures. Rebranded as Ellsworth Place, the mall’s grand reopening will be in the spring.
Built in 1992, the mall grew stagnant as more outdoor shopping appeared in the downtown area. The developer is giving the space a facelift, including renovations to current stores, such as Marshalls and Burlington Coat Factory. It is also making several upgrades, including a first-floor sitting area with charging stations, an indoor playground and a coffee stand, said Walt Petrie, chairman of Petrie Richardson Ventures.
While the inside of the mall gets major changes, care is also being taken to preserve its historic exterior. Built in the 1940s, the mall’s Fenton Street and Colesville Road wing was originally a Hecht’s department store.
“It’s in the historic registry, and we had to protect it,” Petrie said. “When we bought the building in 1989, we went through the historic panels, and all that. It’s only the back half of the center [that] is the Hecht’s building. The other half is new. We opened it in 1992.”
Rather than significantly alter the historic landmark, the developer has added two entrances on the newer half of the building, as well as screens that display ads and announcements.
Former tenant Ross will reopen in the space that used to house a Gold’s Gym, and several other stores are being added, including T.J. Maxx (which opened Nov. 11), Foot Locker, Forever 21’s F21 Red and the craft store Michaels.
“We’re trying to be selective on who we put in and trying to merchandise the center, and not just sell it,” said Petrie, explaining that his company is going for moderately priced retailers that will “complement the places that [they] have there now.”
The firm is also adding a Dave & Buster’s to the 40,000-square foot space that used to house a movie theater, as well as a Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant with outdoor seating.
Business openings will be staggered throughout the spring. Renovations are still being made, even as customers shop the scattered stores. The beeps and whines of the machines echo in the five-floor mall, and signs of progress are everywhere.
Longtime Silver Spring shoppers, including Takoma Park native Ronald Brown, are excited by the coming changes.
“I used to always shop here,” Brown said. “It’s one of my favorite malls. It’s a much-needed renovation, so I’m looking forward to seeing the changes.”
His wife, Roberta, said she is most excited about Michaels, which is scheduled to open in the spring.
“It’s going to be the closest craft shop in this area,” she said. In the past, the teacher said, she had to travel as far as Gaithersburg to buy her craft supplies.
Although they frequent the businesses on their Silver Spring strip, the Browns said they are glad to see the mall being “resurrected.”
“A well-rounded, all-inclusive hub for the community — that’s pretty much all that’s needed here,” Ronald Brown said.
Petrie said the community has shown “tremendous support” for the renovation.
“They couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “The first day [T.J. Maxx] opened up, they did a huge volume. We’re looking forward to the spring, when everybody else opens. It’s exciting to see it transform.”