From Shopping to Living: The Transformation of Pembroke Mall, VA

Pembroke Mall: The Pioneering Shopping Destination in Hampton Roads

The Dawn of a Retail Era in Virginia Beach

Pembroke Mall, a name that resonates with decades of shopping history, marked its grand entry in March 1966, becoming the first enclosed shopping mall in the bustling Hampton Roads metro area.

Its opening was more than a commercial event; it was a cultural shift, introducing a modern retail experience to the residents of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

From Farmland to Fashionable Floors

Before its transformation into a retail hub, the site of Pembroke Mall was nothing but stretches of farmland.

This all changed in March 1965, when construction began, paving the way for a new shopping and social interaction era.

A year later, the first twenty-one stores opened, welcoming eager shoppers. The mall’s layout was complemented by key anchor stores, Sears and Miller & Rhoads, respectively, at the western and eastern ends.

Alongside these giants, the mall featured a Woolworth dime store, a name synonymous with affordability and variety, right near the heart of the mall.

Establishing a Shopping Tradition

As the years progressed, Pembroke Mall expanded its physical footprint and influence on the local culture.

Things to do in Virginia Beach, VA, often included visiting this iconic mall, where every turn offered something new and exciting.

Pembroke Mall was more than a collection of stores; it became a landmark where memories were made, trends were set, and the community came together.

From its humble beginnings on farmland to becoming a bustling center of trade, Pembroke Mall stood as a testament to innovation and growth in the retail landscape of Virginia Beach.

Expanding Horizons: The Growth and Transformation of Pembroke Mall

A New Chapter in Retail Expansion

The 1980s heralded a new era of growth for Pembroke Mall with the pivotal expansion in 1981. This expansion introduced Rices Nachmans, a local department store, as a third anchor, significantly diversifying the mall’s retail offerings.

The addition of Rices Nachmans expanded the mall’s physical footprint and appeal, drawing in a broader range of shoppers and solidifying its status as a key shopping destination in Hampton Roads.

This period of expansion reflected the mall’s ongoing commitment to evolving and adapting to its customers’ changing needs and preferences.

Retail Dynamics and Changing Faces

The retail landscape of Pembroke Mall continued to evolve through the late 1980s and 1990s. In a significant change, Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Hess’s acquired the Rices Nachmans chain in 1985, rebranding the stores under its banner.

However, this was just the beginning of a series of retail shifts. The closure of Miller & Rhoads in 1990 led to the introduction of Uptons, an Atlanta-based chain, in its place.

The transformation continued with Hess’s selling its Hampton Roads area stores to Proffitt’s in 1993, which sold them to Dillard’s in 1998.

These changes were symbolic of the dynamic nature of the retail industry, with Pembroke Mall at its epicenter.

Facing New Challenges

By the mid-1990s, Pembroke Mall began facing new challenges, primarily from emerging, larger malls such as Lynnhaven Mall and MacArthur Center.

This competition led to a gradual loss of tenants, signaling a shift in the retail dynamics of the area.

The closure of the entire Woolworth chain in 1997 left a notable vacancy in the mall, followed by the closures of Uptons in 1999 and Dillard’s in 2002.

These departures marked a significant period of change for Pembroke Mall, as it needed to adapt and reinvent itself in the face of evolving retail trends and consumer preferences.

Pembroke Mall
Pembroke Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Revitalizing Pembroke Mall: Embracing Change in the New Millennium

A New Direction in 2003

The early 2000s marked a pivotal turning point for Pembroke Mall as it embarked on an ambitious redevelopment journey.

In 2003, the mall’s management initiated a mall-wide revitalization, infusing new life into the aging structure.

This included laying new floor tiles throughout the concourse, signaling a modern look. The introduction of several restaurants along the mall’s periphery further enhanced its appeal, making it a shopping destination and a hub for culinary experiences.

The redevelopment demonstrated a clear commitment to keeping pace with shoppers’ evolving demands and tastes.

Welcoming New Stores and Saying Goodbye to the Old

This period of transformation also saw significant changes in the mall’s retail mix. Kohl’s, a Wisconsin-based department store chain, opened its first Hampton Roads location in the former Uptons space in 2003, bringing a new dimension to the mall’s retail offerings.

Alongside Kohl’s, the mall welcomed national chain tenants such as Pacific Sunwear and Hot Topic. However, these additions came with departures; the mall’s movie theater closed in 2011, making way for a Target store in the space formerly occupied by Dillard’s.

The closure of the food court in 2012 and its replacement with Old Navy and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse further underscored the continuous evolution of Pembroke Mall’s retail landscape.

The 2010s continued to be a period of adaptation and change for Pembroke Mall. In 2015, Sears Holdings spun off several properties, including the Sears at Pembroke Mall, into Seritage Growth Properties.

This led to the downsizing of the Sears store, with parts of it being leased to new tenants like Nordstrom Rack, The Fresh Market, and DSW Shoe Warehouse.

These changes reflected the shifting retail trends and the need for malls to diversify their offerings to remain relevant and appealing to consumers.

Pembroke Mall
Pembroke Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Final Curtain and a New Beginning for Pembroke Mall

The End of an Era: Mall Closure in 2022

In a significant shift marking the end of an era, Pembroke Mall closed its interior in 2022, paving the way for a comprehensive redevelopment plan.

This closure was noteworthy in the mall’s history, signaling the transition from a traditional retail mall to an innovative, mixed-use development.

The decision to close was driven by an ambitious vision to transform the space into Pembroke Square, a development estimated to cost around $161 million.

This redevelopment plan includes the construction of a new hotel, over 300 apartment units, senior living facilities, and parking garages, with the city contributing $24 million to the project.

The closure of the mall’s interior was not just an end but a promise of a new, vibrant future for the site.

Liquidation Sale: A Unique Opportunity

As part of the transition to Pembroke Square, a 3-day liquidation sale was held in November 2023, offering community members and businesses a chance to own a piece of the mall’s history.

The sale near the DSW store included various items ranging from furniture and fixtures to marketing supplies and Christmas decorations.

This event was not only a practical step in clearing out the mall but also an opportunity for the community to connect with its past and make room for its future.

It was a first-come, first-served, cash-only event, emphasizing the urgency and finality of this pivotal moment in the mall’s timeline.

Pembroke Square: A Fresh Chapter in Virginia Beach’s Commercial Landscape

The Ambitious Redevelopment of Pembroke Mall into Pembroke Square

The transformation of Pembroke Mall into Pembroke Square is a significant milestone in Virginia Beach‘s retail and real estate history.

The $200 million redevelopment project, spearheaded by Pembroke Realty Group, represents a bold leap into the future.

Initially announced in November 2021, the project’s first phase began with groundbreaking in December 2022.

This redevelopment is not just a construction project; it’s a reimagining of the space to serve the community’s evolving needs.

The former SunTrust Bank building at the entrance on Virginia Beach Boulevard was demolished to make room for a blend of apartments, retail space, and a senior living community, symbolizing a shift from traditional retail to a multifaceted commercial hub.

Adjustments to the Original Plan: Scaling Back Amidst Rising Costs

The journey of Pembroke Square has seen its share of adjustments and recalibrations. Due to escalating construction costs, higher interest rates, and increased labor costs, the original plan for the hotel has been scaled back from 14 to 7 stories.

Similarly, the multifamily luxury apartment community, a pivotal part of the project’s third phase, has been redesigned from a 12-story structure to a more modest 7-story building.

These changes reflect the project’s responsiveness to economic factors, ensuring its viability and sustainability in the long term.

Progressing Developments: Senior Living and Future Plans

Pembroke Square continues progressing with its developments, notably the Aviva senior living community. In partnership with Beth Sholom Village, Aviva is a seven-story, 153-unit facility scheduled to open in late 2024.

It will offer various living options, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care units. This development highlights Pembroke Square’s commitment to providing diverse and inclusive living options for the community.

Envisioning the Future: The Pembroke and Tempo by Hilton

The Pembroke: Luxury Living in the Heart of Virginia Beach

The future of Pembroke Square is set to be further enriched by the addition of The Pembroke, a new luxury apartment complex slated to open in winter 2026.

Situated at the heart of downtown Virginia Beach, The Pembroke promises its residents a blend of comfort and convenience.

With its prime location, residents will be within walking distance of many stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues, including Target, Nordstrom Rack, Bahama Breeze, The Sandler Center, and Regal Cinema.

This residential development, a partnership between Pembroke Square Associates and Castle Development Partners, is designed to offer an upscale living experience, keeping in tune with the evolving expectations of modern city dwellers.

Tempo by Hilton: A New Chapter in Hospitality

Complementing the residential allure of Pembroke Square is the upcoming Tempo by Hilton hotel, set to open its doors in winter 2026.

This new-to-market hotel is committed to delivering exceptional guest experiences characterized by modern amenities and an expansive city view.

Guests at Tempo by Hilton can look forward to premium culinary dining experiences, including a bar and restaurant, all set in the vibrant downtown area of Virginia Beach.

The partnership between Pembroke Square Associates and Landmark Hotel Group in bringing Tempo by Hilton to life reflects a forward-thinking approach to hospitality, catering to both business travelers and vacationers seeking comfort and luxury away from home.

A Glimpse into Pembroke Square’s Comprehensive Development

The transformation from Pembroke Mall to Pembroke Square is more than just a name change; it’s a comprehensive redevelopment catering to various urban living aspects.

The addition of The Pembroke and Tempo by Hilton is a testament to the project’s vision of creating a dynamic, multifaceted space.

These developments not only enhance the commercial and residential appeal of Virginia Beach but also signify a new era of urban living where convenience, luxury, and accessibility converge.

As Pembroke Square continues to take shape, it stands poised to become a cornerstone of Virginia Beach’s urban landscape, offering its residents and visitors a unique blend of living, shopping, and leisure experiences.

Pembroke Mall
Pembroke Mall” by byzantiumbooks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Reflecting on the Legacy and Future of Pembroke Square

The Evolution from Pembroke Mall to Pembroke Square

The story of Pembroke Mall, now transitioning into Pembroke Square, is a narrative of change, resilience, and adaptation.

From its early days as a pioneering shopping mall in the Hampton Roads metro area to its current transformation into a mixed-use development, Pembroke Square has mirrored the evolving retail, real estate, and community needs trends.

The mall’s transformation from a traditional retail hub to a modern, multi-purpose space encapsulates a broader trend in urban redevelopment, where versatility and diversification are key to sustainability.

A New Chapter in Virginia Beach’s Urban Landscape

The introduction of diverse elements, such as luxury apartments, a contemporary hotel, and a senior living community, speaks to the project’s comprehensive approach to urban development.

Pembroke Square is poised to become a vibrant activity center, offering residents and visitors a place to live, work, and play.

This development promises to inject new energy into the city, making it a destination for shopping and various lifestyle experiences.

Looking Forward to Pembroke Square’s Completion

As Pembroke Square nears its completion, there is a sense of anticipation for what it will bring to the Virginia Beach community.

It is a model for other cities looking to rejuvenate their commercial spaces, blending tradition with innovation to create vibrant, multifunctional urban centers.

It highlights the potential of commercial spaces to evolve and meet the changing needs of a community, setting a precedent for future developments in urban landscapes.

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