With Southern Season closing, Libbie Mill loses an anchor

Southern Season announced Monday it will close its Libbie Mill Midtown store, followed by

Southern Season’s in-store restaurant, Southerly, closed Monday. The store will close April 24. Photos by Michael Thompson.

With home sales beginning and construction on its apartments set to commence, a massive mixed-use development is losing an anchor tenant.

Southern Season announced Monday it plans to close its 53,000-square-foot gourmet foods store at 2250 Staples Mill Road in the Libbie Mill Midtown development.

Southern Season’s in-store restaurant, Southerly, closed yesterday, as did its deli and bakery. The store itself will close April 24.

Dave Herman, president of Southern Season, gave a straightforward reason for shutting down less than two years after opening the Richmond storefront: not enough sales in too big of a space.

“It’s slower-than-expected-growth in the store,” Herman said, adding Southern Season is shifting in other markets to opening storefronts with smaller footprints. “The store is bigger than it needs to be.”

Herman, who was hired by the company in 2014, before the Richmond store opened, said Southern Season’s 115 employees at the Richmond location will have the option to take severance packages or get transferred to the business’s three other stores in North Carolina and South Carolina. The company also announced Monday its plans to open at least two new smaller stores this year, in Atlanta and Asheville, North Carolina.

The store’s departure leaves at least a temporary hole on the commercial side of Libbie Mill, an 80-acre development from Gumenick Properties.

“Following Southern Season’s announcement today, we now move to the resolution of legal issues related to the store,” Gumenick spokesman Ed Crews said on Monday, alluding to the store’s lease. “We are disappointed that Southern Season was not successful in a superb business location.”

Libbie Mill Library also anchors the development.

Libbie Mill Library also anchors the development.

Libbie Mill’s other commercial tenants include the forthcoming Shagbark restaurant, a planned TowneBank branch, and offices for Richmond Memorial Health Foundation and the insurance company Rutherfoord.

The development’s other anchor is the 60,000-square-foot, Henrico County-run Libbie Mill Library.

Libbie Mill’s residential pieces are beginning to take shape. Crews said construction will begin soon on 327 apartments that will be part of a mixed-use building with 40,000 square feet of retail space. Five townhouses at Libbie Mill have been sold and 16 others are on the market, according the development’s website. The site is approved for 994 homes for sale and 1,096 apartments.

“We have initiated sales and people are telling us they want to buy homes,” Crews said. “We do not build speculative homes. We get contracts. Once we have contracts, then we build.”

Other future centerpieces planned for the project include three towers, two of which have county clearance to rise 175 feet and another up to 250 feet.

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Jim Washok
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I wonder if Whole Foods’ new smaller format would work well there? They have a nice cafe which can take over the Southerly footprint. Likely important to have a grocery store of some sort within the development.

Miguel Sanchez
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Miguel Sanchez

Given that Whole Foods will be shortly moving in to the space on Broad next to the DMV, not sure that another location so nearby would be sustainable. But I agree, Jim, that a high-end grocery store makes sense. I would say that Fresh Market would be an answer, but the space is probably too large and the location is probably too close to Fresh Market’s Carytown and Parham road locations.

Carolyn Freedell
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Carolyn Freedell

Ironic it’s closing after we just drove by this development to see what was in there now! Oddly enough, I wanted to see the spectacular new library and we didn’t ever see a sign for it. I suppose it was the large building behind everything that fronts Staples Mill, but you’d think it would be signed on the front.