Richmond-area malls plan to reopen Friday

Regency Square is among the local malls that plan to reopen Friday after shuttering in response to the coronavirus pandemic.(BizSense file photo)

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.

One of the mall entrances at Virginia Center Commons. (BizSense file photo)

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.

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Andrew Dolson
Andrew Dolson
17 days ago

There is absolutely no reason to close the seating area in the food court at Virginia Center Commons. Long before the pandemic, it was one of the most socially-distant places on earth. Keeping even the scant few folks for sitting with their meals, though, will only harm the beleaguered restaurant owners there.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
17 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Dolson

While I agree in relation to VCC, unfortunately it cannot be expected for a state-wide restriction to add an exemption to this one food-court in this one dying mall.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
17 days ago

It seems to me if they closed 50% of the seating in mall food courts, that would be enough for social distancing.

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Who would do the required cleaning of the chairs and tables? I’m not sure they were cleaned very much to start with, unlike most regular eating establishments who have designated servers or bussers. I suspect that would be a problem.

Deon Hamner
Deon Hamner
17 days ago

I’m rooting for Stony Point but it does not look good for them…

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
16 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

Agree, but being in the city puts them later down the Phase One opening..