Shake Shack, the rapidly expanding restaurant chain known for its burgers, fries and milkshakes, has lined up its first Richmond-area location as one of the anchors of a soon-to-be-redeveloped West End shopping center.
Last week the company filed permits to begin work at 5400 W. Broad St., on the site of a boarded up former Applebee’s just west of Willow Lawn.
The parcel is part of the Willow Place shopping center near West Broad Street’s intersection with Libbie Avenue. Planning documents indicate the long-vacant 4,700-square-foot Applebee’s structure would be razed to make way for a new building to be occupied by Shake Shack.
A Shake Shack spokeswoman said in an email Monday that the new location will be about 3,200 square feet with 1,200 square feet of outdoor dining area. She added that they expect the location to open in 2023. It also will have a drive-thru.
Richmond-based Sauer Properties owns the former Applebee’s and entire Willow Place shopping center. Sauer Properties President Ashley Peace confirmed Shake Shack’s plans.
Founded in New York City in 2004, Shake Shack has grown to over 360 locations globally, the majority of which are spread across 32 states in the U.S. It has dozens of locations in D.C. and Northern Virginia. It opened a location in Virginia Beach in 2019, but had not strayed further west until now.
The Richmond location looks to be a part of an overall expansion for Shake Shack. Per a report from trade publication Restaurant Dive, Shake Shack is on an aggressive growth plan and planning to open around 50 locations in the U.S. in 2022.
Shake Shack isn’t the only new tenant in store for the Willow Place shopping center.
Peace said Sauer Properties is planning a significant retail redevelopment of the center but wouldn’t disclose further details at this time.
Sauer Properties bought the bulk of the roughly 12-acre shopping center in 1990 for $1 million, county records show. It added the Applebee’s building to its holdings in 2009, buying it for $1.9 million, and a year prior bought the Car Pool Detail building at 5512 W. Broad St. for $745,000.
The largest piece of the shopping center is a 77,000-square-foot strip center at 5420 W. Broad St. Anchored until 2017 by Food Lion, the strip center is now home to tenants such as retailer Artee Fabrics & Home, Chinese restaurant Huang’s Express and dance studio Rigby’s Jig.
While Sauer Properties is keeping hush about the redevelopment plans, a flier from Thalhimer offers clues to the project’s scope.
Site plans on the Thalhimer flier show that the main strip center would be renovated and given new facades, while a pair of new retail buildings totaling 25,000 square feet would rise to the east at 5300 W. Marshall St.
The flier also shows that the existing River City Veterinary Hospital at 5305 W. Broad St. would be kept and expanded, however Car Pool’s building’s fate is unclear as it is listed as an available drive-thru outparcel.
The nearby Baskin-Robbins and year-old First Watch are not owned by Sauer and are not subject to the planned redevelopment.
Thalhimer’s Connie Jordan Nielsen represented Sauer Properties in lease negotiations with Shake Shack and is handling leasing for the overall redeveloped site.