The announcement that Norfolk’s downtown mall is up for sale It’s not the death knell of the complex, but it’s certainly a disturbing sound. Nationwide in recent years.
But the news about the MacArthur Center in Norfolk is particularly disappointing. The three-story mall opened in his 1999 and is only adolescent (by the mall’s age) when compared to similar giants elsewhere in America. Norfolk officials waited decades to realize the previously vacant spot when they could bet on other development projects instead.
The MacArthur Center has responded to retail store closures and the constant shift to online shopping. General saturation of the mall and other consumer options. According to the MacArthur Center, the occupancy rate is only 62%. Jones Lang LaSalledealing in real estate and investment management services.
James V. Koch, professor of economics at Old Dominion University and founder of the Dragus Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, told me this week. “It’s not a problem unique to Norfolk, Virginia. [must] If you don’t change your purpose, it will cease to exist. ”
The land on which the mall is located is leased from the city’s housing authority. Local authorities put on a brave face in response to last week’s news.
“We hope this move will be the first step in rethinking the property of MacArthur Center,” City Manager Chip Fyler said through a spokesperson. “The city looks forward to working with potential new owners should the property sell.”
It’s a very rosy view.
Of course, the struggle facing MacArthur is nothing special. The same story is unfolding around the state.
Virginia Center Commons Located in Glen Allen, it has been open since 1991 and closed last year. This location is part of a redevelopment plan that includes a new sports and gathering center.
Home Depot acquired the Charlottesville Fashion Square mall last year. Daily Progress reportedThe mall, built in the 1980s, “struggles for relevance,” the paper reported at the time.
Military Circle Mall Norfolk, which opened in 1970, just closed this week. In 2010, I wrote how poorly it was doing at attracting customers and that the hotel had already closed he he year. Virginian Pilots recently reported that current negotiations between the City of Norfolk and a private development group to overhaul the sprawling 75-acre site have stalled.
Visited the MacArthur Center on Tuesday at noon. I noticed some closed shops were decorated with artwork. Customer traffic was low. If you threw a baseball down the hallway, you might not have hit anyone.
When I tried to interview merchants and customers, two security guards told me that the mall was “private property” and that such Q&A was prohibited. A security guard ordered me to leave.
It was MacArthur’s biggest headache, as if I was walking through a mall and talking to an idle store employee.
Pamela Katrancha owns Garden Gazebo, which sells garden-related products. She has run various shops over her 30+ years and has been running the mall store since 2015. She isn’t concerned about the news that MacArthur is for sale, but she’s heard rumors that the mall may eventually be demolished.
“No one knows the answer,” Cattrancha said in a telephone interview. She credited mall management for supporting merchants.
“I hung out at the mall,” she added. “That changed when Nordstrom left.” Former Anchor store, 2019was a big blow.
MacArthur’s success, or whatever replaces it, is psychologically tied to the overall outlook of downtown Norfolk. One of his reasons is the long discussion of what to do there and the long road to open the mall doors.
Local leaders have shown a great deal of perseverance over the decades in building this site near the eponymous World War II general’s memorial. The mall sits on the site of a much-grown “17-acre” downtown. The newspaper archives say:
The area was a slum and warehouse in the 1950s. These structures were eventually demolished during urban regeneration. This place has been used as a parking lot for many years. Various development plans have come and gone. It also included an amusement park.
The mall finally gained consistent momentum and funding in the mid-1990s. Its construction coincided with other changes that spurred the rebirth of downtown Norfolk. Arrival at the community college campus. Shops and restaurants open on Granby Street, the main thoroughfare.
The mall eventually covered about 23 acres. It has three floors and 934,000 square feet.
Over time, MacArthur has faced escalating challenges. shooting, including one for 2020, frightened the customer. A major retail store that occupies several floors, Including Forever 21, I left.
no one foresaw the colossus online retailer amazon will be He opened in 1995, a few years before MacArthur served its first customers.
“Unfortunately, it was developed at a time when, nationally and economically speaking, many trends were going against it,” said ODU’s Koch.
After waiting decades for MacArthur to open, city and mall leaders must be keenly aware of the upheaval in shopping habits. Still, they have no choice but to regroup, adapt, and plan new courses.