Springfield Mall is Safe for Shopping, District Supervisor Says

Renovations will reduce crime and make shoppers feel safer, McKay says.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay thinks Springfield Mall is still a safe place to shop, but he understands why some area to visit the half-empty facility.

“Right now, when people are in Springfield Mall, they’re scared because it’s so desolate,” McKay told Patch.

More than half the mall’s while officials at Vornado Realty Trust, the mall’s New York-based owner, figure out plans for redevelopment.

Fairfax County officials had hoped these redevelopments would begin in the fall, but Vornado has yet to make a move, and residents are growing concerned.

Minor Incidents, Mostly

The majority of the crimes at Springfield Mall are minor incidents, such as larcenies and shoplifting. But some residents cite more serious, isolated incidents, such as robberies, as reasons to worry about crime at the facility. In September 2008, a 61-year-old woman was abducted from Springfield Mall in a carjacking and died when her assailants crashed the car in Prince William County.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department's crime map, there were 21 reported incidents at Springfield Mall during August 2011. Of the reported offenses, 18 were larcenies, two were drug offenses, and one was a destruction of property offense. 

“I think the biggest way to make people feel safer at the mall is to get people back to the mall, and the only way you’re going to do that is with a complete transformation,” McKay said. “The mall has been through a few new coats of paint, and it doesn’t get people to come back.

“They have to recapture people who had bad experiences there in the past,” he said.

However, Nancy-jo Manney, executive director of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, said the mall's management had done a good job of making improvements to the facility's safety. "They’ve gotten rid of tenants that were less than desirable and some that were attracting the wrong crowd," she said.

She also thought the mall's lack of operating storefronts helped make the space more safe. "The lack of tenants in the space, which is part of the improvement project, makes it safer because there’s not as many people there," she said.

Redevelopment May Mean Crime Reduction

McKay believes that redeveloping the mall will reduce the criminal activity on the premises.

The first phase in Vornado’s long-term plan for the structure is a serious overhaul of the mall’s interior. This redevelopment includes a brand new food court, and over the next decade, Vornado also intends to build outdoor store space along Loisdale Road, office space and housing.

Some of the store vacancies are intentional in preparation for the mall's redevelopment—vacant storefronts allow stores to move around to accomodate construction.

"Getting people back into the mall, mentally, just makes people feel safer," McKay said. "You feel like everybody is watching out for everyone else."

Neither Manney nor McKay had specific information regarding when Vornado intended to begin its renovations, and calls to Vornado officials earlier this summer have not been returned.

A Joint Safety Effort

Fairfax County police officers have patrolled the mall for some time, said Officer Eduardo Azcarate, a spokesman for Franconia District Station. 

"The officers who work at the mall have been in constant communication with the management," Azcarate told Patch in an email. "Site security has obviously been a topic discussed, with recommendations made by the officers."

Franconia District Officers worked with the mall’s security personnel and developers during the redesign process, McKay said. "Our police were at the table when they redesigned [the mall]," he said. “They had a lot of input into the way corridors are designed. They made some observations I wouldn’t have thought of.”

For instance, police recommended that the railings on the mall’s upper levels be replaced with Plexiglas, McKay said. This will allow patrols to see more clearly into stores below if their help is needed. 

McKay maintained that Springfield Mall is a safe place for residents to shop. "I don’t feel unsafe at the mall," he said, while admitting that "it is eerie to be in there."

Springfield Mall security personnel could not be reached in time for the publishing of this article. 

Brian Feldman September 27, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Due to the appearance inside and outside, I feel like I am walking through a bad neighborhood. The place feels not taken care off, dirty, dull and dingy. Even the roads circling the mall needs repair and cleanup: trash, pot holes, non-existent faded road lines, and torn up medians. The entire area is feels of crumbling concrete and asphalt (surrounding roads, metro, and shopping centers) need more of trees and landscaping, most city neighborhoods are more appealing: Rosslyn, Pentagon City, Crystal City. Fact is it is not just the mall keeping people away, it is also the roads circling it.
Steve September 27, 2011 at 05:25 PM
I agree with the above. The parking structure outside Macy's is dark and dangerous even in the day time. Many of the crimes have happened there including the carjacking that led to the fatality in 2008. I have stopped going there due to the danger, appearance, lack of desirable stores. The whole thing should probably be torn down.
RJ September 27, 2011 at 06:24 PM
Close the entire place until the renovations are done. Which I suspect that will done around 2035.
ZPH September 28, 2011 at 06:56 PM
In the era of big box stores and Internet shopping, large "destination" indoor malls in general are dinosaurs. Springfield in particular is long past the point of rehabilitation. There are a lot of better uses for the real estate, especially since it's strategically located adjacent to the Metro at the intersection of the Beltway and I-95/395. Personally, I'd like to see the mall property and the GSA warehouses across the road become the new home of the Washington Redskins (preferably without also getting Dan Snyder as part of the package).
Karen October 01, 2011 at 12:34 PM
It's obvious that Vornado simply does not want to follow through on their redevelopment plan--they've had plenty of time. It's a shame that the county is totally useless to make Vornado either move forward or sell the property to someone--anyone--who will rehabilitate it. This land would have made a good office park. Perhaps if such a facility had been built here, it wouldn't have been necessary to bulldoze the Lewin Park neighborhood to build the office park there.


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