The official demolition of Springfield Mall began Monday morning, as construction crews make way for the new Springfield Town Center slated to be complete in the fall of 2014.
“We’re here today to celebrate a major milestone for this mall. It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is a big deal to people who live in Springfield and businesses in and around Springfield to see this process actually start. It’s taken a long time to get to this point,” Fairfax County Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said.
He was joined at the demolotion by officials from Vornado Realty Trust and Springfield civic groups.
The redevelopment of the mall and transformation into what will become an upscale town center is part of a three-year effort between the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Vorando, who owns the mall, and a handful of community organizations in the Springfield area.
The new development will have more than 700,000 square feet of mixed businesses such as retail, restaurants, a fitness center and a movie theater.
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“For anyone who’s lived in the Springfield mall area for a long time like I have, this was the place to be. [The Board of Supervisors] approved some efforts to get the mall back to what it used to be and I think the final product will knock our socks off and will be something we can proud of having in Springfield again. There was a major downturn in the economy since the board approved this plan, but I think the strength of our local economy really shows its recovering well since we stand here today to start this process.” said McKay.
According to Mitchell Schear, president of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, interior demolition on the mall began in July. Anchor stores such as Macy’s, JCP, and Target have been open during construction and will remain open through the completion of the renovation.
All of the mall's stores except for anchor stores closed back in July.
“We’re excited to see what the new redone project will look like when complete,” sad Schear, who called McKay a “great advocate and partner” for the project. “The citizens recognized the potential for what the site represents and the history and saw that it could be something significant to be part of the future of Springfield.”
Schear said the plan is to have all of the new additions to the mall such as the movie theater and other components complete by fall 2014 in the first phase. Additional opportunities to add hotels and other places will likely come along in phase two of the renovation, sad McKay, but the deliberate goal of phase one was to reestablish the mall as a “retail giant” and make it a place residents want to visit to dine and shop.
“Our concern was the get the retail back up and thriving again. It was important that be handled in phase one,” said McKay. “The goal was to create a very dynamic mixed use town center that is state of the art that meets the demand of the residents and town centers.”
Phase two of the project will include ground-floor retail and upper-floor office space. Phase III will feature a stand-alone high-quality and high-density hotel and office space. Phase IV will complete the town center, with apartments and condominiums.
Bob Burns, one of the main managers in charge of the renovation’s daily operations, said the mall will be a reflection of how the industry has evolved. The town center will include a bigger presence and variety of entertainment.
“The name has changed from “mall” to “town center” and I think that’s indicative of the changes coming up,” said Burns.
Schear said the names of the new stores will be confidential for a while, but echoed Burns comments by calling the mix of new stores consistent with town centers in other areas.
The later phases of the redevelopment will take around 10 years to complete.