At least a few Richmond-area malls will take the plunge and reopen Friday, the same day the governor will loosen existing restrictions on businesses.
Among them are Short Pump Town Center, Chesterfield Towne Center, Regency Square and Virginia Center Commons. But it won’t be business as usual.
Steve Bonniville is president of Broad Sky Management, which manages Regency and Virginia Center Commons. He said though most tenants are anticipated to be open for business, they’ll operate in a limited fashion, the mall will observe shorter opening hours and some areas, such as food court seating and playgrounds, will be closed.
“It’s obviously going to be a little different than it used to be,” he said.
The malls have directed tenants to follow the state government’s guidelines for their operations. While the food court seating areas will be closed, the restaurants there will be allowed to open. Bonniville stressed mall employees will clean frequently throughout the day, especially in high-touch areas. Public-facing mall employees will wear face masks.
Bonniville said tenants were eager to reopen. While most tenants were expected to be operational Friday, not everyone will be open. Bonniville said he hadn’t heard from J.C. Penney regarding its stores (there’s one in both Regency and Virginia Center Commons). The Burlington Coat Factory at Virginia Center Commons planned to reopen May 22.
Bonniville said he felt that shoppers would turn out.
“I think you’ll see people out shopping … they want an opportunity to get out and shop,” he said.
Both Regency and VCC closed their interior spaces in response to the pandemic March 18. The pandemic hit as the two struggling malls sought to find their footing in a changing retail business landscape and amid plans for their new owners, including local developer The Rebkee Co., to transform the malls into mixed-use destinations.
Rebkee and Shamin Hotels pitched an arena-anchored mixed-use development at VCC in November.
Short Pump Town Center and Chesterfield Towne Center used Facebook posts on Wednesday to announce their intent to reopen Friday. Brookfield Properties Retail, which owns both malls, didn’t respond to a request for further comment Wednesday afternoon. The Short Pump mall lost a longtime anchor tenant when Nordstrom announced this month it wouldn’t reopen after it temporarily closed in response to the pandemic.
A spokeswoman for Stony Point Fashion Park didn’t respond to a request for comment. The mall’s website and social media presence Wednesday afternoon didn’t indicate any plans to reopen. The mall closed temporarily due to the pandemic March 23.