A children\’s court in the center of the newly-renovated Springfield Town Center will include a library and play area. Shops such as Build-A-Bear Workshop, Gymboree and Stride Rite will be clustered nearby. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)
With six weeks to go before its reopening, Springfield Town Center is beginning to look a lot like, well, a shopping mall.
The walls at Victoria’s Secret have been wallpapered pink and dozens of overhead lights have been installed at H&M. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling as workers mop the floors of the 1.3 million square-foot shopping center.
Save for some bells and whistles — a glass-enclosed fireplace in the food court, a movie theater with reclining seats, and two childrens’ play areas — the mall is largely still that: A suburban shopping mall.
There are a handful of new-fangled brands, including TopShop, the British fashion retailer, which picked the shopping center as the site of its first Washington area store, and Suite Blanco, a Spanish retailer making its U.S. debut at the mall. But much of the center’s line-up includes the usual suspects: Macy’s, JC Penney, Victoria’s Secret, Sunglass Hut and Gymboree.
Even so, Joe Coradinio, chief executive of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns the property, says the complex is a far cry from its troubled predecessor, Springfield Mall.
“This is a very different shopping center than it was before,” he said during a hard-hat tour with reporters this week. “The retail and the restaurants will help redefine the customer.”
Joe Coradino, chief executive of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, and Robert Byrne of Vornado Realty Trust lead a hard-hat tour of the new mall, which underwent a two-year, $250 million renovation.
When it opened in the 1970s, Springfield Mall was hailed as one of the region’s premier shopping centers, attracting visitors such as Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
In the decades since, the mall struggled as competitors popped up around the region. Two years ago, Vornado shuttered the shopping center completely, with plans to reinvent the complex into a town center complete with apartments and office space.
“Simply put, we thought this was the single best redevelopment prospect in the country,” said Robert Byrne, a vice president at Vornado, which oversaw the renovations.
The mall’s reopening Oct. 17 marks the completion of the first phase of development in a decade-long project.
The hope, developers say, is to create a hub for local residents. In addition to shopping, the mall is hoping to draw a regular stream of visitors with the addition of L.A. Fitness, a 12-screen movie theater and a number of restaurants, includings Chuy’s, Yard House and Maggiano’s, with patio seating.
A glass-enclosed fireplace separates the indoor-outdoor food court. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which is based in Philadelphia, recently purchased Springfield Town Center from Vornado Realty Trust for $465 million. (Paramus, N.J.-based Vornado is making a broader effort to sell off shopping malls. Last month, the company announced a deal to sell The Shops at Georgetown Park for $272.5 million.)
In addition to Macy\’s, Springfield Town Center is anchored by Target and JC Penney, and so-called \”junior\” anchors include Nordstrom Rack and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The mall will include revamped seating areas, complete with phone-charging stations, and enhanced security measures, including 122 cameras and more than 30 emergency call boxes.
“What [the new mall] symbolizes is a vibrancy and a coming back together of Springfield as the retail giant of Fairfax County,” said Jeff McKay, Fairfax County Supervisor. “We are where everything was at one point in time, and we will be where everything is again.\”