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Landmark Mall Redevelopment Still a Long Way Off

About one-third of the mall's storefronts are currently vacant.

Alexandria's Landmark Mall has a vacancy rate more than three times the national average.

According to Reuters, at large U.S. malls, the national vacancy rate is about 9 percent, the highest since the first quarter 2000, when Reis, a a commercial real estate research and analysis company based in New York, began tracking regional malls. 

But more than one-third of the Landmark Mall’s retail space—more than 50 individual storefronts—sit unused. In addition, two large sections of the mall adjacent to Sears and a storefront on level 2 large enough to be a small department store are empty. 

, just a few miles southwest of Landmark, renovations of Landmark Mall still seem to be a long way off.

Local management at Landmark Mall did not return Patch's calls for comments. Barbara Nicklas, a representative with the Texas-based Howard Hughes Corp. that owns Landmark Mall, wrote in an email to Patch: "The Howard Hughes Corporation is actively leasing, marketing and operating Landmark Mall to serve the needs of our customer and respond to the market demographics."

Landmark Mall was built in 1965, and last renovated in 1990. The mall has 900,000 square feet of retail space.

Landmark Redevelopment Potential                  

In early 2009, the Alexandria City Council approved a major redevelopment plan for the Landmark/Van Dorn area, but that plan is on hold for now while the Howard Hughes Corp. studies the area.

The City’s plan for the property and areas to the south along Duke Street and Van Dorn Street calls for a “lively, mixed-use town center for Alexandria's West End,” according to the City of Alexandria’s website. “Incorporating retail, residential, office and hotel development and a number of urban parks and plazas, the town center would be organized in a walkable grid of urban blocks. A new bridge over Duke Street is proposed to connect Landmark Mall to the rest of the town center and to other neighborhoods to the south.”

According to the City of Alexandria’s calculations, the full redevelopment of Landmark and the surrounding area, which would encompass 13.5 million square feet of development, could produce $23.2 million in annual net new tax generation.

“While the net new tax generation is significant, the increase in tax revenue will occur gradually and likely over several decades depending on the economy, market conditions and other factors, such as when Landmark Mall redevelops,” according to the City’s 2009 Projected Fiscal Impact statement. That $23.2 million does not account for special redevelopment incentives that could be part of redevelopment agreements, and it will cost the city substantially to build new roads, bridges and redevelopment-related infrastructure.

Economy Delays Landmark Redevelopment

Redevelopment is still several years away from even starting, however. In 2009, City of Alexandria officials, a local advisory group and property owners worked closely with General Growth Properties, which owned Landmark at the time. GGP then went into bankruptcy, and Landmark Mall was transferred to the Howard Hughes Corp. with some other GGP assets, according to Pat Mann, an urban planner for the City of Alexandria.

In an email to Patch, Mann wrote: “This project remains a high City priority, but given current conditions in financial markets, the project is unlikely to proceed this year. Moving forward with the entire project--including the department stores--requires agreement with the other current owners of the site, Sears and Federated Stores, each of whom own about one third of the total site area. Many of the other owners of larger sites in the area are expected to wait for the mall project to proceed before making major investments, though smaller projects could proceed within the planning area at any time.”

One of those projects may be the Van Dorn/Beauregard transitway corridor. City officials are currently conducting an initial feasibility study. More information on the transitway corridor is available here.

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This article is the second in Patch's two-part series on local malls. Part 1 covered the and the surrounding area.

Robin Bectel July 13, 2011 at 06:19 PM
I politely disagree with this idea for three reasons. First, if you did want to have overflow parking, there is really no need for a bridge. You can already easily walk between Landmark and Mark Center already so you dont need a new bridge. You walk up Van Dorn and cross under 395 on Sanger Ave to reach Beauregard. Its not a short walk however and its very hilly, Sidewalks are there the whole way and only involved one street crossing at a very small intersection manned by crossing guards in the AM. Fundamentally, however, I dont want to encourage MORE people to drive to BRAC. We need to encourage many fewer cars to drive to BRAC by limiting parking. I also would love to see the Landmark project go forward which would make this a temporary and expensive solution.
Mike July 13, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Make the workers park at one central location and have to take a bus there. The Pentagon would be a good place for them to park.
Chris July 14, 2011 at 01:21 PM
I'm not sure a pedestrian walkway has to be temporary. If Landmark Mall is renovated, perhaps housing will be part of the deal--and BRAC workers could become residents instead of commuters. More restaurants could be built there too, creating some semi-convenient dining options for BRAC workers and generating some tax revenue for the City of Alexandria. Yeah, you can poke holes in pretty much any plan, but the BRAC facility isn't going anywhere, so all efforts at making the best of it should be undertaken.
Jaycee July 14, 2011 at 06:14 PM
I commuted from Fredericksburg to DC for a number of years--if I could have lived in the area near work, I still would not have moved into that particular neighborhood, so telling employees to move their homes and families, or to walk uphill to get to work does not seem very friendly or welcoming. I think using a section of the Landmark garage is an excellent idea--and it makes more sense to me than using the space to house new cars from the Alexandria Honda dealership as is currently done. A shuttle service (Virginia Commuter?)--preferably paid by the Defense Department--should run between Mark Center and Landmark every 10-to-15 minutes throughout the day, not just for the rush hours. Landmark Mall should offer a diversified array of KNOWN eateries in a variety of cuisines that are easy to "grab and go" (think the Potomac Mills food court or Union Station in DC). The retailers should include stores that are not available at Springfield or Pentagon City, so that people have real shopping options. Mall management should keep the tweeny-bopper, gang-banger, and sweet-teen retailers to an absolute minimum to appeal to a different demographic. This would encourage people to return to shop, eat, and spend money during non-work hours.
Greg Blakey March 19, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I own a condo in the immediate area of Landmark Mall. I go to Macy's once or twice a year and never venture in to the Mall at all. It is a waste of space and should be closed down as it basically is now. Malls are a thing of the past and any effort to revitalize it as a mall is a wasted effort. With Pentagon City and Tysons I and II within miles why anyone would go here is beyond me. I understand that Macy's and Sears own their buildings and try to block construction because they do not want the interference in their business. I am sorry but something has to be done to eliminate the eye soar. The signage is falling down the area looks horrible and it is a embaraassment to the community. Greg

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