An Arizona developer is rolling out plans to demolish a struggling East End mall and build a new open-air retail center.
Bromont Investments is under contract to buy the Fairfield Commons mall on Nine Mile Road in a deal expected to close this fall, said Joshua Rector, director of development for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based firm.
The company plans to raze the 46-year-old shopping center to make way for about 300,000 square feet of retail space at a new complex dubbed Eastgate Town Center.
“The existing structure is just kind of past its prime. It’s a very tired structure, and it needs to be replaced,” Rector said. “The demographics are right and prime in an underserved retail area, so we thought it was an absolute home run from a redevelopment standpoint.”
Eastgate Town Center will be made up of four free-standing retail buildings. Rector said the company hopes to close the purchase of the property in the fall. He said he is “slightly optimistically” hoping to open the new development by fall of 2015.
A site map submitted for the project to the Henrico County Planning Commission in May shows a 190,000-square-foot anchor, a second 82,000-square-foot building and a third 15,000-square-foot structure. Rector said a fourth outparcel building, which is not labeled in Bromont’s rezoning application, will bring the center’s total size under-roof to close to 310,000 square feet.
A rezoning case for the project is scheduled to go in front of the planning commission next month.
Eastgate Town Center will include both single- and multi-tenant buildings. Rector said the company has reached out to grocery and general merchandise retailers that could fill the roughly anchor slot, but no leases for the property have been finalized.
“We have numerous deals that are signed in the letter of intent stage,” he said. “Unfortunately, when they are in the letter of intent stage, they do not allow me to announce them to the public yet.”
Email correspondence included in the county planning commission’s rezoning file says a large retail tenant at Eastgate is seeking permission to operate 24 hours a day. Rector added that several of his potential tenants are interested in staying open around the clock.
Rector said that CBRE | Richmond broker Rob Black, who is representing Bromont in its purchase, led the development company to Fairfield Commons. Bromont put the land under contract about a year ago.
The mall is currently about 55 percent occupied. Major tenants include Peebles, Citi Trends and Maxway. Rector said Bromont has approached several of the mall’s current retailers about taking space in the redeveloped shopping center.
The property is currently owned by Chiocca-Talley Malls Inc., according to Henrico County records. Colliers International brokers Yasmine Hamad and Brian Glass are representing the seller in the transaction.
Eastgate would be the third major redevelopment project in the works for a Richmond-area mall property. Kroger anchors a sprawling mixed-use complex taking shape at the former Cloverleaf Mall and Martin’s had its eye on anchoring a potential retail and residential redevelopment at the former Azalea Mall site earlier this year.
Eastgate will be Bromont’s first development in the Richmond market and its only holding in Virginia. Rector said he hopes it will spur further redevelopment along Nine Mile Road in Richmond’s East End.
“I think this is the first major step of many to come,” he said. “I think this is a great area that has been in recent years overlooked by many in the region, and I think people will be very surprised at what a great power center this can be.”