Virginia Center Commons: A Brief Overview
Virginia Center Commons (VCC) was an enclosed shopping mall in Glen Allen, Virginia. Developed by Edward J. DeBartolo Sr./Faison and opened in 1991, the mall saw several ownership changes.
It was initially owned by Simon Property Group, which sold it to Washington Prime Group in 2014. In 2017, it was sold again to Kohan Retail Investment Group. With a total retail floor area of 775,000 sq ft, VCC boasted 60 stores and services, five anchor tenants, and one floor.
The Rise and Fall of VCC
When VCC first opened, it significantly impacted the business of three other area malls: Azalea Mall, Fairfield Commons (formerly Eastgate Mall), and Willow Lawn.
VCC’s success led to the decline and eventual closure of Azalea Mall and Fairfield Commons, with the latter being redeveloped into a smaller open-air mall. Willow Lawn, on the other hand, repositioned itself as a community shopping center rather than a regional shopping destination.
As the years went by, VCC faced several challenges. Anchor stores like Proffitt’s and Leggett, which later became Dillard’s, closed or were downgraded.
Macy’s also closed its store in the mall in 2016. In 2018, Sears announced that it would be closing its location at VCC in early 2019. The mall was finally sold for $8.3 million in early 2020 to VCC Partners LLC and Shamin VCC LLC.
Redevelopment and Closure of VCC
In January 2021, demolition began on the former Macy’s and Sears anchors to make room for an indoor sportsplex. The JCPenney building was also acquired that month, with plans to raze it and the rest of the mall to make way for a mixed-use development anchored by the sportsplex and a hotel owned by Shamin Hotels.
VCC closed permanently on October 31, 2022, after the remaining tenants had their leases terminated in preparation for the redevelopment.
As the mall closed its doors, residents expressed mixed feelings about the changes. Some were saddened by the loss of the community shopping center, while others were excited about the prospects of new developments.
The redevelopment plans include new housing, a hotel, and tourist facilities, with the construction timeline extending into 2023.
Henrico Sports Complex and Future Developments
Adjacent to the former VCC site is the incoming Henrico Sports Complex, a $50 million facility set to become a center for sports tourism. Boasting 185,000 square feet of indoor space for games like basketball and volleyball, the sports complex required demolishing a mall part to accommodate its construction.
In addition to the sports complex, hotel and apartment units are planned for construction at the site. Shamin VCC LLC and VCC Partners LLC, which own most of the land at the mall, are planning to build two hotel projects near the mall’s former location.
Furthermore, Stanley Martin Homes has plans to build 75 townhomes on a 4.6-acre parcel of land adjoining the mall.
With these new developments, the area will undergo a significant transformation and continue to serve the community in new ways.
Store Transitions and Changing Retail Landscape
Throughout its history, Virginia Center Commons experienced multiple store transitions, reflecting the constantly evolving retail landscape. Among the mall’s original anchor stores were Proffitt’s and Leggett, a division of Belk. Both stores eventually became Dillard’s in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
However, Dillard’s closed the former Proffitt’s store in 2011, making way for a Burlington Coat Factory. It also downgraded the former Leggett to an outlet store before closing it later that year. American Family Fitness then took over the space.
Other notable store closures include Macy’s, which closed its former Hecht’s store at VCC in the spring of 2016 as part of a nationwide closure of 36 stores.
Sears also followed suit, announcing in November 2018 that it would close its location at VCC in early 2019 as part of a plan to shutter 40 underperforming stores. These store closures and transitions indicated the broader challenges traditional brick-and-mortar retailers face in an increasingly digital age.
Community Sentiment and Embracing Change
The closure of Virginia Center Commons was met with mixed emotions from residents. For many, the mall represents an essential part of the community where they shop and socialize. However, as stores closed and the mall became a ghost town, some residents expressed concerns about the area’s future.
However, others were optimistic about the new developments planned for the site. L. Allen, a resident who stopped by the mall during its final sale, shared her thoughts on the upcoming changes: “Things are changing. Putting something new up here, I’m open to it, and hopefully, it won’t take too long, and we’ll have memories of Virginia Center Commons.”
As the community adjusts to the loss of the mall, they also look forward to embracing the new opportunities that the redevelopment plans will bring, including new housing, hotels, and sports facilities.
Virginia Center Commons: A Mall’s Legacy and Transformation
Virginia Center Commons in Glen Allen, VA, once a bustling shopping destination, has experienced a rollercoaster of a journey since its opening in 1991. Its rise and fall have shaped the area’s community and retail landscape.
As the mall closed its doors in 2022, its legacy lives on in the memories of those who frequented its halls, and its transformation into a new mixed-use development brings hope for a bright future.
As we bid farewell to Virginia Center Commons, we also embrace the exciting new opportunities that the redevelopment plans hold, including the incoming Henrico Sports Complex, new housing, and hotel projects set to revitalize the area and continue serving the community in unique and innovative ways.