Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke, VA: Reinventing Retail Spaces

The Birth and Early Years of Tanglewood Mall

Introduction to Tanglewood Mall

Tanglewood Mall emerged as a significant commercial hub in the heart of Roanoke County, Virginia, opening its doors on March 28, 1973.

Developed by T.D. Steele, this mall was not just a shopping center but a landmark in the retail landscape of Virginia.

At its inception, Tanglewood Mall was celebrated as the largest shopping center west of Richmond, boasting a sprawling 658,000 square feet of gross leasable area and accommodating 4,000 parking spaces. This scale underscored its ambition to become a pivotal destination for regional shoppers.

Original Anchor Stores and Design

The mall’s original lineup of anchor stores included prominent names like J.C. Penney, Leggett (which later became Belk), Miller & Rhoads, Woolco, and G.C. Murphy.

These anchors were not just stores but pillars that supported the mall’s reputation as a comprehensive shopping destination.

The interior of Tanglewood Mall was a testament to the design aesthetics of the era, featuring dark parquetry floors, tinted glass, and modern lighting.

The mall was adorned with three large fountains, adding a touch of elegance and tranquility to the shopping experience.

Early Changes and Additions

Tanglewood Mall’s journey through the years saw several shifts and transformations. In 1975, a convenience center opened adjacent to the mall, further enhancing its appeal.

This center included a Kroger and a General Cinema, broadening the range of things to do in Roanoke, VA.

However, the departure of G.C. Murphy in 1979 marked the mall’s first significant tenant change. This exit reconfigured its space; the upper level transformed into a food court, while the lower level was repurposed for small shop spaces.

Adding the former Murphy’s escalator to the mall’s common area was a strategic move to enhance accessibility and flow.

Tanglewood Mall’s early years laid a strong foundation for its role as a central shopping and social destination in Roanoke, VA.

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Its evolution from a bustling new mall to a landmark with changing tenants and design reflects the dynamic nature of retail and commercial spaces.

The Mall’s Evolution Through the 1980s and 1990s

Shifts in Retail Landscape

The 1980s marked a period of significant change for Tanglewood Mall. In 1983, Woolco closed its doors, leading to a notable shift in the mall’s retail composition.

This space was occupied briefly, as it soon welcomed a Brendle’s catalog showroom and the addition of T.J. Maxx, expanding the mall’s retail diversity.

These changes reflected the evolving consumer preferences and the competitive retail environment of the time.

Interior Redesign and Competition

In 1985, Tanglewood Mall underwent a major interior redesign. This renovation responded to the opening of Valley View Mall, a new regional competitor.

The mall shed 1970s-style decorative details, embracing softer colors and Mediterranean tile.

This redesign also included the installation of a new passenger elevator, enhancing accessibility, and modernizing the mall’s infrastructure.

Later Additions

The 1990s brought further developments to Tanglewood Mall. In 1995, Goody’s Family Clothing opened in the space formerly occupied by the French Quarter, marking another shift in the mall’s retail offerings.

The same year, Stein Mart joined the mall, adding to its portfolio of high-quality retail options. These additions were part of the mall’s ongoing efforts to stay relevant and attractive to shoppers in a rapidly changing retail landscape.

The 21st Century: Challenges and Transformations

Early 2000s Developments

As the new millennium unfolded, Tanglewood Mall continued to evolve. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the opening of a 10-screen cinema in 1998, adding an entertainment dimension to the mall’s offerings.

In 2005, the mall introduced an educational element with the “Baby Dinosaurs at the Mall” exhibit, a satellite of the Roanoke Science Museum, attracting families and young visitors.

Store Closures and Changes

The 2010s were challenging for Tanglewood Mall, marked by significant store closures. In 2017, JCPenney, one of the mall’s original anchors, announced its closure, leaving a substantial vacancy.

However, this space was soon repurposed when Carilion Clinic announced in 2019 that they would lease the former J.C. Penney space for a Carilion Children’s Clinic, signifying a shift towards healthcare services within the mall.

Renovations and New Tenants

The mid-2000s were a period of rejuvenation for Tanglewood Mall, with extensive renovations from 2005 to 2007.

These renovations aimed to refresh the mall’s interior and exterior, making space for several new tenants.

Notably, Michaels, a well-known arts and crafts store, replaced A.C. Moore shortly after its closure in 2019, demonstrating the mall’s ability to adapt and attract new businesses in a changing retail environment.

Tanglewood Mall Today: Current Anchors and Their Stories

Belk’s Journey

Belk, originally known as Leggett, has been a cornerstone of Tanglewood Mall since its opening in 1973.

Over the years, Belk has undergone several renovations and expansions, adapting to the changing retail and consumer preferences trends.

This anchor store has consistently provided a wide range of apparel, accessories, and home goods, making it a key destination for shoppers at Tanglewood Mall.

Burlington, TJ Maxx, and Staples

Burlington, known for its affordable fashion and home goods, became a part of Tanglewood Mall, bringing a diverse range of products to its clientele.

TJ Maxx, another anchor tenant, has been a part of the mall since the 1980s, offering discounted designer fashion and home decor.

Staples, a major office supply store, joined the mall, catering to the needs of local businesses and residents with its wide range of office products and technology solutions.

Michael’s and Skechers

Michael’s, a leading arts and crafts retailer, took over the space previously occupied by A.C. Moore in 2019, providing a creative haven for craft enthusiasts.

Skechers, a global footwear brand, opened its doors at Tanglewood Mall, offering a variety of shoes for all ages. 

Carilion Children’s Clinic

Carilion Children’s Clinic at Tanglewood Mall represents a significant development in the healthcare landscape of Roanoke, VA.

This facility, part of the Carilion Clinic network, is dedicated to pediatric medicine, offering a range of services tailored to the health and well-being of children.

The clinic’s presence in Tanglewood Mall marks a unique integration of healthcare services into a retail environment, providing convenient access to medical care for families and children.

With a focus on pediatric child development and pediatric medicine, Carilion Children’s Clinic is a vital resource for the community, contributing to the overall health and development of children in the region.

The clinic’s establishment at Tanglewood Mall underscores the evolving nature of malls as multi-purpose destinations, catering not only to retail but also to essential community services like healthcare.

Tanglewood Mall in 2023: A New Chapter Under New Ownership

Tanglewood Mall has embarked on a new chapter in 2023 under the ownership of Richmond-based Hackney Real Estate Partners.

This transition marks a significant shift in the mall’s trajectory, promising revitalization and a renewed focus on development.

Built in 1973 on Electric Road, Tanglewood Mall was once the commercial heart of Roanoke County.

However, it faced challenges over the years, with parts of the space remaining vacant despite several renovations.

The mall’s recent history includes a sale in 2016, coinciding with plans for the 419 town center, a project aimed at rejuvenating the area.

Local leaders see Hackney Real Estate Partners’ acquisition of Tanglewood Mall as a positive move.

The new owners aim to build upon the foundation established by the previous owners, maintaining Tanglewood Mall as a first-class asset for Roanoke and its surrounding communities.

A key aspect of this revitalization is the diversification of dining options at the mall. The highly anticipated opening of Chili’s is expected to add to the variety of dining experiences available at Tanglewood.

This follows the successful openings of Panda Express, Blaze Pizza, and Jersey Mikes in the previous year, enhancing the mall’s appeal as a destination for dining, healthcare, and retail.

The new phase under Hackney Real Estate Partners’ ownership brings hope and excitement for the future of Tanglewood Mall.

With a focus on redevelopment and diversification, the mall is poised to reclaim its status as a vibrant commercial and social hub in Roanoke County.

The Mall as a Healthcare Destination

A notable aspect of Tanglewood Mall’s redevelopment is its evolving role as a healthcare destination.

The Carilion Children’s Clinic, which opened in the former JCPenney space, is a testament to this new direction.

Furthermore, Carilion is expanding its services at Tanglewood by opening a mental health facility in the fall of 2023.

This expansion not only diversifies the mall’s offerings but also provides essential healthcare services to the community, reinforcing the mall’s role as a multi-faceted destination.

Conclusion: Tanglewood Mall’s Ongoing Journey

Reflecting on the Past and Present

Tanglewood Mall’s journey from its grand opening in 1973 to its current state in 2023 is a story of adaptation and resilience.

Over the years, the mall has witnessed significant changes, from the departure of original anchor stores to the introduction of new retail and healthcare services.

These transformations reflect the mall’s ability to respond to its customers and the community’s evolving needs and preferences.

The Challenges and Adaptations

The mall has faced its share of challenges, particularly with the rise of online shopping and changing consumer behaviors.

However, Tanglewood Mall has continually adapted, embracing new opportunities and redefining its role in the community.

The integration of healthcare services, the introduction of contemporary dining and retail options, and the planned expansions under new ownership indicate the mall’s dynamic approach to staying relevant and vibrant.

Looking Forward to a Bright Future

As Tanglewood Mall embarks on its next phase under the stewardship of Hackney Real Estate Partners, there is a sense of optimism and anticipation.

The planned expansions and renovations, along with the mall’s diversifying offerings, position it well for continued success.

Tanglewood Mall’s story is one of transformation and growth, and it stands poised to remain a cherished destination in Roanoke for years to come.

Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Rosh

    Tanglewood is a staple to the Roanoke and greater Southwest VA community. While big names have come and gone, I think it’s also important to note that its been a long-standing home to smaller businesses as well. Local stores like Suit City, Crystal Cottage, etc. have reliable and loyal local customers that have allowed them to weather the last decade’s challenges well, despite all the uncertainty with mall management changes and renovations. Would love to see these timeless businesses included here or spotlighted in another article!

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thanks for pointing out the role of local stores in Tanglewood Mall’s ecosystem. The presence of businesses like Suit City and Crystal Cottage shows the mall’s diverse appeal. They certainly deserve more recognition for their contribution to the community.

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