Alexandria's Landmark Mall has a vacancy rate more than three times the national average.
According to Reuters, at large U.S. malls, the national vacancy rate is about 9 percent, the highest since the first quarter 2000, when Reis, a a commercial real estate research and analysis company based in New York, began tracking regional malls.
But more than one-third of the Landmark Mall’s retail space—more than 50 individual storefronts—sit unused. In addition, two large sections of the mall adjacent to Sears and a storefront on level 2 large enough to be a small department store are empty.
, just a few miles southwest of Landmark, renovations of Landmark Mall still seem to be a long way off.
Local management at Landmark Mall did not return Patch's calls for comments. Barbara Nicklas, a representative with the Texas-based Howard Hughes Corp. that owns Landmark Mall, wrote in an email to Patch: "The Howard Hughes Corporation is actively leasing, marketing and operating Landmark Mall to serve the needs of our customer and respond to the market demographics."
Landmark Mall was built in 1965, and last renovated in 1990. The mall has 900,000 square feet of retail space.
Landmark Redevelopment Potential
In early 2009, the Alexandria City Council approved a major redevelopment plan for the Landmark/Van Dorn area, but that plan is on hold for now while the Howard Hughes Corp. studies the area.
The City’s plan for the property and areas to the south along Duke Street and Van Dorn Street calls for a “lively, mixed-use town center for Alexandria's West End,” according to the City of Alexandria’s website. “Incorporating retail, residential, office and hotel development and a number of urban parks and plazas, the town center would be organized in a walkable grid of urban blocks. A new bridge over Duke Street is proposed to connect Landmark Mall to the rest of the town center and to other neighborhoods to the south.”
According to the City of Alexandria’s calculations, the full redevelopment of Landmark and the surrounding area, which would encompass 13.5 million square feet of development, could produce $23.2 million in annual net new tax generation.
“While the net new tax generation is significant, the increase in tax revenue will occur gradually and likely over several decades depending on the economy, market conditions and other factors, such as when Landmark Mall redevelops,” according to the City’s 2009 Projected Fiscal Impact statement. That $23.2 million does not account for special redevelopment incentives that could be part of redevelopment agreements, and it will cost the city substantially to build new roads, bridges and redevelopment-related infrastructure.
Economy Delays Landmark Redevelopment
Redevelopment is still several years away from even starting, however. In 2009, City of Alexandria officials, a local advisory group and property owners worked closely with General Growth Properties, which owned Landmark at the time. GGP then went into bankruptcy, and Landmark Mall was transferred to the Howard Hughes Corp. with some other GGP assets, according to Pat Mann, an urban planner for the City of Alexandria.
In an email to Patch, Mann wrote: “This project remains a high City priority, but given current conditions in financial markets, the project is unlikely to proceed this year. Moving forward with the entire project--including the department stores--requires agreement with the other current owners of the site, Sears and Federated Stores, each of whom own about one third of the total site area. Many of the other owners of larger sites in the area are expected to wait for the mall project to proceed before making major investments, though smaller projects could proceed within the planning area at any time.”
One of those projects may be the Van Dorn/Beauregard transitway corridor. City officials are currently conducting an initial feasibility study. More information on the transitway corridor is available here.
This article is the second in Patch's two-part series on local malls. Part 1 covered the and the surrounding area.