The Hidden Treasures of Chesterfield Towne Center Mall in Richmond, VA

Overview of Chesterfield Towne Center

Chesterfield Towne Center, nestled in Chesterfield County, Virginia, is a prominent enclosed shopping mall in the Richmond metropolitan area.

Since its inception in 1975, this mall has evolved into a pivotal retail and social hub, offering diverse shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Its strategic location and comprehensive mix of stores have made it a go-to destination for locals and visitors, contributing significantly to the area’s retail landscape.

The Mall’s Inception and Early Years

The journey of Chesterfield Towne Center began over four decades ago. Developed by the Chevy Chase Land Company and now managed by Brookfield Properties, the mall initially opened with a single anchor store, Miller & Rhoads, setting the stage for its future expansion.

Over the years, the mall has grown to encompass over 130 stores and services, anchored by prominent names such as Macy’s, JCPenney, and At Home.

The mall’s evolution reflects the dynamic nature of the retail industry and its ability to adapt to changing consumer trends.

Current State and Retail Offering

As of December 2023, Chesterfield Towne Center thrives as a bustling retail center. It boasts a total retail floor area of 1,019,000 square feet, accommodating many tenants.

The mall features a blend of national retailers, specialty stores, and local boutiques, catering to various shopping preferences.

Its current tenants include popular names like American Eagle Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, and H&M, alongside dining options such as Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Auntie Anne’s.

The mall’s ability to offer an extensive range of things to do in Richmond, VA, makes it a key player in the region’s commercial and social scene.

Historical Evolution of the Mall

The Early Struggles and the “Chesterfield Morgue”

Initially known as Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield Towne Center opened its doors in 1975. The sole anchor, Miller & Rhoads, was a beacon of retail promise.

However, the early years were challenging. The mall struggled to attract consistent traffic, earning the unfortunate nickname “Chesterfield Morgue.”

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This period marked a time of uncertainty for the mall as it sought to establish its identity and attract a steady flow of visitors.

Major Renovations and Expansion in 1987

In 1987, a significant turning point arrived. The mall underwent a major renovation and expansion, a move that would redefine its future.

This renovation included the addition of two new anchor stores: Hess’s and Leggett-Belk. Alongside these anchors, a food court and a 9-screen movie theater were introduced, enhancing the mall’s appeal.

The expansion also saw the construction of a long corridor parallel to Mall Drive. With these additions, the mall was rebranded as “Chesterfield Towne Center.”

The new name and introducing a diamond and palm theme symbolized a shift towards attracting a more upscale clientele.

In 1990, further changes were seen as Miller & Rhoads rebranded to Hecht’s, aligning with the mall’s upmarket aspirations.

Changes in Anchors and Ownership

The 1990s brought more changes. In 1993, Hess’s sold its store to Proffitt’s, marking the beginning of a series of ownership changes for this anchor space.

Three years later, in 1996, Dillard’s acquired the store from Proffitt’s. The mall’s ownership also shifted in 1994 when The Macerich Partnership reached Chesterfield Towne Center.

In 1997, Sears opened a store at the mall, followed by JCPenney in 2001. These openings were significant as retailers moved away from the nearby Cloverleaf Mall.

During this period, the Leggett-Belk store was traded to Dillard’s, which maintained it as a second location within the mall.

Hecht’s also completed an addition, further cementing the mall’s status. By the late 1990s, Chesterfield Towne Center had grown to become the largest mall in Richmond, a testament to its resilience and adaptability.

Anchors and Major Tenants

Macy’s: A Story of Transition

The anchor store Macy’s, originally Hecht’s, has been a central part of Chesterfield Towne Center’s retail landscape.

The transition to Macy’s occurred in September 2006, following the broader rebranding of many Hecht’s locations.

This change brought a new dimension to the mall’s offerings, aligning with its upscale and diverse retail mix.

Macy’s has since been a key player in attracting a wide range of shoppers, contributing significantly to the mall’s foot traffic and retail variety.

JCPenney: A New Era Begins

JCPenney’s opening in 2001 marked a new era for Chesterfield Towne Center. Its arrival was part of a larger trend of retailers moving away from the declining Cloverleaf Mall.

JCPenney brought a rich retail history, offering a wide range of merchandise that appealed to a broad demographic. Its presence reinforced the mall’s position as a primary shopping destination in Richmond.

At Home and TJ Maxx/HomeGoods: Diversifying the Retail Mix

The anchor space has seen further diversification with the introduction of At Home and a combination TJ Maxx/HomeGoods store.

At Home, which replaced the former Leggett/Belk/Dillard’s space in November 2010, brought a unique home décor and furniture offering to the mall.

In 2011, the former Hess’s/Dillard’s space was transformed into a combination TJ Maxx/HomeGoods store, introducing a blend of off-price apparel and home fashion.

These anchors have played a crucial role in broadening the mall’s appeal, offering shoppers a variety of choices beyond traditional department store fare.

Their presence reflects the evolving nature of retail and the mall’s ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences.

Notable Stores and Their Impact

The Significance of Non-Anchor Stores

Chesterfield Towne Center is defined by its anchor tenants and other notable stores, adding to its appeal.

H&M, a global fashion retailer, has been a part of the mall’s retail mix, offering trendy apparel options to a younger demographic.

Barnes & Noble, a major book retailer, also significantly attracts a diverse crowd, providing a space for book lovers and café-goers.

These stores and others like Bath & Body Works and American Eagle Outfitters contribute to the mall’s reputation as a diverse shopping destination.

Dining Options: More Than Just Shopping

The mall’s dining options significantly contribute to its overall appeal. Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Red Robin are among the popular dining choices available to shoppers.

These restaurants offer a variety of cuisines, turning the mall into a shopping destination and a place to enjoy a diverse culinary experience.

Auntie Anne’s, known for its pretzels, adds to the quick snack options, catering to shoppers looking for a quick bite.

There’s Cinnamonster and Great American Cookie for those with a sweet tooth. And for a casual dining experience, there’s Red Robin and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Want to try something more exotic? Check out El Mariachi Loco Mexican Grill, Honolulu Bar-B-Q, or Nori Japan. And for seafood lovers, The Twisted Crab awaits!

Challenges and Competitions

Facing the Retail Evolution

Chesterfield Towne Center has faced its share of challenges, particularly with the rise of nearby malls like Stony Point Fashion Park and Short Pump Town Center.

These competitors introduced new retail concepts and shopping experiences, posing a significant challenge to Chesterfield Towne Center’s market dominance.

The mall has had to continuously innovate and adapt to maintain relevance in the evolving retail landscape.

The Closure of Sears and Its Impact

One of the notable challenges was the closure of Sears in 2020. Sears had been a significant anchor tenant, and its departure marked a pivotal moment for the mall.

This closure was part of a broader trend affecting traditional department stores nationwide. The mall had to strategize on filling the void left by Sears and maintaining foot traffic and consumer interest.

Resilience in the Face of Competition

Despite these challenges, Chesterfield Towne Center has demonstrated resilience. The mall has held its own against the competition, adapting to changing consumer behaviors and retail trends.

This adaptability is evident in its evolving tenant mix and the introduction of new and diverse retail and dining options.

Despite the competitive pressures, the mall’s ability to remain a preferred shopping destination in the Richmond area speaks to its enduring appeal and strategic management.

Recent Developments and Future Prospects

New Tenants and Renovations

In recent years, Chesterfield Towne Center has welcomed new tenants, reflecting its ongoing evolution and adaptation to current retail trends.

These additions include retail and dining establishments, further diversifying the mall’s offerings.

Renovations have also been a part of this process, with existing stores like American Eagle Outfitters and Old Navy undergoing updates to enhance the shopping experience.

These changes indicate the mall’s commitment to staying contemporary and appealing to a broad customer base.

The Sale of Nearby Corner Shops

A notable development near Chesterfield Towne Center is the sale of the nearby Corner Shops at Chesterfield Towne Center for nearly $5 million.

This transaction, involving a New York limited liability company, underscores the area’s commercial viability and attractiveness to investors.

The Corner Shops, comprising tenants like Complete Dental Care of Richmond and Sleep Number, add to the commercial dynamism of the area surrounding the mall.

Looking Ahead: Potential and Expectations

Chesterfield Towne Center is poised for continued success and potential further development.

The mall’s ability to adapt to changing retail landscapes, strategic tenant mix, and location in a thriving area bodes well for its future.

The mall is expected to keep pace as consumer preferences evolve, potentially introducing more diverse and experiential retail and entertainment options.


Reflecting on Chesterfield Towne Center’s Journey

Chesterfield Towne Center’s journey from its challenging beginnings to its current status as a key retail destination in Richmond is a story of resilience and adaptability.

Overcoming early struggles and evolving through various phases of development, the mall has consistently reinvented itself to meet the changing needs of consumers.

The Mall’s Enduring Appeal

Despite facing competition and the challenges of a dynamic retail environment, Chesterfield Towne Center has maintained its appeal.

Its success can be attributed to a strategic mix of tenants, continuous updates, and a focus on providing a comprehensive shopping experience.

The mall’s ability to attract a diverse range of shoppers and maintain a vibrant atmosphere is a testament to its enduring relevance.

Future Prospects and Continued Success

As Chesterfield Towne Center looks to the future, it stands on a strong foundation built over decades of retail excellence.

With ongoing developments, new tenant additions, and a keen eye on market trends, the mall is well-positioned to continue its success.

Its story is one of transformation and perseverance, serving as Richmond’s vibrant shopping and social hub.

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