That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

August 7, 2013

Peninsula Town Center Infomation Pamphlet, 2007

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 5:12 pm

Wow, I accidentally hoarded this for years in my photobucket album. I got this in the mail some time in 2007, I think right after Coliseum mall was torn down. I’m trying to remember how I got my hands on it, I think I asked someone who was in charge of the transition process if the mall had their fixture sale yet, and of course in typical Anita fashion, I missed it. He offered to send me this though. There was some fantastic old photos of the mall in it:

 photo timeschange2.jpg

 

January 31, 2013

“Creditors say Peninsula Town Center owner defaulted on $168.5 million loan” (Daily Press, 1/31/13)

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 6:24 pm

 

dailypress.com/news/hampton/dp-nws-peninsula-town-center-default-20130130,0,6316799.story

dailypress.com

Creditors say Peninsula Town Center owner defaulted on $168.5 million loan

Properties will be auctioned Feb. 14

By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com | 757-247-2827

January 30, 2013

HAMPTON — The largest commercial development built within the city in the past 50 years has defaulted on a $168.5 million loan, according to a public notice announcing the upcoming auction of those properties.

 

(more…)

February 2, 2012

Gap @ Coliseum Mall (Daily Press archives)

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 1:02 pm

I found this today while searching the Daily Press archives, and I thought the order of the search results were amusing:

 

(more…)

December 17, 2011

Thalhimers, Coliseum Mall (1976-1992)

Filed under: "coliseum mall",commercials,dead chains — Anita @ 11:50 pm

Image from The Daily Press, the weekend Coliseum Mall shut down in 2007.

Thalhimers, Coliseum Mall, 11-14-1991.

Interior entrance, 11-14-1991, the day Thalhimers announced Hechts was taking over:

Gigantor Hecht's (Coliseum Mall, Hampton, VA)
(picture I took circa Summer of 2005)

Shopping bag my parents had stashed in their Christmas decorations, possibly older than I am, from the early 1980s maybe:

Thalhimer's Bag (possibly older than I am?)

Thalhimers Commercials:

Thalhimers 1-day Christmas sale Commercial 1986 — I like that they showed Snowbear at the end, not once, not twice, but three times.

Commercials 1986: Part 13 – 2 commercials in this break.

August 19, 2011

Malls They’re Not Just For Shopping Any More (1989, Daily Press)

Splash! 2-24-89 (The Daily Press)

Article

I need to go to the library when I have a chance and get this article from the microfilm and see if there are any photos of the malls.

//edit, October 15, 2011//
Checked it out today, there was no photos.

(more…)

August 4, 2011

“Hampton Malls Expand For ’90s” {daily press, May 20, 1990}

Hampton Malls Expand For ’90s
Cosmetic, Market Revamps Sought
May 20, 1990|By NEIL CORNISH Staff Writer

The air in Newmarket North mall at 8:30 a.m. is filled with the rich smell of doughnuts from one of the few stores open for business, interspersed with the sound of yapping pet store dogs and shouts from construction workers.

Long before the day’s shoppers arrive and the last of the morning mall walkers depart, work crews clean up from a night spent filling in floors, tearing away ceiling tiles and installing new plumbing in preparation of the mall’s transfiguration into Newmarket Fair this fall.

FOR THE RECORD – Published correction ran Wednesday, May 23, 1990. A story incorrectly stated that ceiling tiles removed during the renovation of Newmarket North mall were being “burned off as steam.” The tiles are to be burned at a steam-generating plant which uses trash for fuel.
Published correction ran Tuesday, May 22, 1990. An article said a three-horse carousel is being built near Newmarket North mall’s food court. The carousel will have three rings of horses, not three horses, said Gina Chastain, mall marketing director.

While the renovation work at Newmarket North continues, nearby Coliseum Mall, which completed a renovation project of its own in October, is looking to expand its influence in Hampton Roads in the next five years.

Raymond Tripp, who took over as Coliseum’s manager several weeks ago, said one of the property’s biggest goals is to attract a middle- to upper-end department store to serve as its fifth anchor tenant. The store likely will be in place by 1991 or 1992, he said.

Rob Belue, Newmarket North mall manager, said property owner Goodman Segar Hogan has set Nov. 4 as the date for the mall’s grand re-opening celebration. The $9-million renovation project includes the addition of 13,000 square feet of skylighting and an 11-tenant food court.

Newmarket’s renovation was announced when Goodman Segar acquired the 800,000-square-foot mall in July for $34 million. Company officials said then that Newmarket had slipped in competition with Coliseum and Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News.

Belue said sales during the construction have dropped less than 1 percent from the same time last year, which he attributed to customer curiosity and customer loyalty. Newmarket’s 1989 sales per square foot were approximately $190, he said.

Store managers contacted expressed mixed feelings about the mall’s performance during the renovation.

“We really haven’t had any negative comments from the customers,” said Courtney Williamson, manager of The Limited. “It’s definitely needed.”

“It seems to be going smoothly, but it has interrupted business,” said Debbie Landen, co-manager of Paul Harris. “But then you’ve got your nosy ones like me who want to see what’s going on.”

Goodman Segar is still trying to find a replacement for former anchor Miller & Rhoads, which closed its store in the mall in January. Whatever store replaces Miller & Rhoads likely won’t be open before 1991, Belue said.

Since the renovation began in January, the staircases at each end of the mall have been removed to make way for escalators and, at the end near Sears, a children’s recreation area and customer service booth.

Workers are leveling the mall’s first floor, which had several pit rest areas.

To make way for the skylighting, Belue said, work crews have disposed of an estimated 400 cubic yards of ceiling tiles, which have been taken to a recycling plant to be burned off as steam. Work crews also will remove the fake brick covering the 18-inch steel support beams, redesigning them as columns.

The food court, which will be called “Eats,” also be the site of a recreation-electronic games room, Belue said. A three-horse carousel will be added near the food court, on the second floor near the former Miller & Rhoads store.

Belue said the trend among developers now is to remodel existing structures instead of building new shopping centers. “All the land that would be good for shopping centers is gone,” he said.

At Coliseum, in addition to finding a fifth anchor, “we’re obviously looking very hard for a good children’s store to go into the mall, and we’d like more women’s apparel,” Tripp said. One women’s apparel store, Gantos, opened in Coliseum this week, and another store, Limited Express, is scheduled to open in a few weeks.

Following the completion of Coliseum’s renovation in October, some of the merchants who were relocated experienced a 2 percent to 3 percent drop in sales, Tripp said. “Their traditional customers didn’t realize where they were,” he said.

Tripp said he was encouraged by first-quarter sales figures, which show mall sales up 7.2 percent from the same period in 1989. Coliseum’s sales per square foot are “decent, but they stand to be improved,” he said; he declined to say what they were.

The mall will continue to battle with Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News to attract shoppers from the Denbigh and York County areas, Tripp said. “I think we’re sharing the market right now,” he said.

July 30, 2011

Coliseum Mall Food Court – So Many Choices (February 11, 1993, Daily Press)

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 9:26 pm

article here.

It is very rare that every family member is happy with the group’s choice of a restaurant. The Food Place, located inside Coliseum Mall in Hampton, can solve squabbles over where to eat.

The Food Place is covered with a large glass dome, and it has many different trees as well as an assortment of live plants and ivy which create an outdoor cafe atmosphere. Whether visitors come to the Food Place for a meal or just for a snack during a busy day of shopping, they are sure to find the setting relaxed and inviting.

Eleven different food merchants offer unlimited options. Pizza fanatics can stop by Sbarro, while those with a taste for Oriental cuisine may pick Chao Praya. Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers serves up hot french fries, hamburgers and specialty sandwiches, and Chick-fil-a is best known for its chicken items. Taco Viva brings the flavor of Mexico to the Food Place, and the Sandwich Place specializes in submarines. Opt for something from Corn Dog on a Stick, or try a warm sandwich from Philly Steak & Grinders. Hot dog lovers can choose Orange Julius, and potato fans may pick Boardwalk Fries for their meal. Cinnabon, with its wide array of pastries, is just the place to indulge a sweet tooth.

May 29, 2010

Peninsula Town Center Directory

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 1:08 pm

PDF

Also for some unknown reason, there is an …. iPhone/iPod touch app for the shopping center?!

January 21, 2010

List of new tenants of the Pennsula Town Center (former Coliseum Mall)

Filed under: "coliseum mall",bath & body works — Anita @ 10:13 pm

Wow, the former Coliseum Mall space is really filling up. The last time I was there was in August, and all that was there was JC Penney, Macys, B&N and Target. I’m also excited to see stores that used to be at Coliseum Mall be on the list too, like Lane Bryant and Bath & Body Works.

{source}
New to Virginia or first retail location

Bensi Ristorante Italiano, Italian Restaurant & Bar: Bensi is an upscale modern Italian restaurant with 20+ locations throughout the East Coast specializing in classic Italian fare. Bensi has chosen this as their first location in Virginia. Its concept is “Always Fresh, All Ways Italian.”

Cinébistro & Movie, Theatre/Restaurant/Bowling: With its fourth location in the country, its first in the Mid-Atlantic, Cinebistro will offer a theater, bowling, and dining experience. The plush cinema offers full in-theater service where moviegoers can choose from a variety of cocktails, wine and beer and order from a menu that competes in selection and quality with the best of upscale casual restaurants. Each cinema features spacious leather stadium seats, including “loveseats” for couples. In addition, as a first for the 3-unit chain, Cinebistro will offer a luxury bowling facility mated to a bar and lounge.

Frank Beamer’s American Grill, American Bistro Restaurant: The classic American bistro is a tribute to Virginia Tech’s Coach Frank Beamer as player and coach. The menu will specialize in gourmet salads, burgers, pizza, and more. Beamer’s is a collaboration that includes one of Virginia’s premier multi-concept restaurant owners, Stephan Parry, former executive with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Huey’s Diner, American Diner: Huey’s Diner has selected this as their second location within the US. This 24-hour diner will have all the traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner favorites along with some creative Southern-influenced signature specials.

Kenji Fusion, Asian Fusion Restaurant: Kenji Fusion specializes in the high energy Teppanyaki style where skilled chefs prepare food and entertain customers table-side. In addition, the menu offers a fusion of Asian, French, Brazilian, and other cultural food offerings from around the globe.

Shoe Woo, Women’s Shoes: Shoe Woo is Jones Retail group’s latest new fun, fashionable, irresistible store concept carrying Nine West, Enzo Anglioni, Anne Klein, Bandolino, Joan & David, and Rachel Roy. This will be the fifth store in the chain in the U.S.

Vincent’s Italian Ice, Italian Ice & Specialty Food: A regular fixture of area sporting event concessions, Vincent’s has selected this as its first retail location for the Philadelphia-rooted and inspired concept selling Italian Ice and other Philly snack foods.

New to Hampton Roads

Delia’s, Junior Women’s Apparel: Delia’s, which will make its debut in the Hampton Roads area, is a multi-channel retailer that sells trendy clothing, accessories, and home furnishings to girls ages 12 to 19 (known as the Millennials) through their retail stores (approximately 100), a catalog and its website.

Q Barbeque, BBQ Restaurant: This Richmond based operation is the off-spring of one of America’s most decorated barbecue competitors, Tuffy Stone, recently featured on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters television series. Q will bring the national award winning food to Hampton Roads in its only store in the market at PTC.

The Wine Loft, Wine Bar & Café: The cafe is opening its first Hampton Roads location, where guests will enjoy exceptional wine and food while relaxing in a unique intimate lounge setting.

Vitamin World, Health & Beauty: Vitamin World is joining PTC offering high-quality vitamins and supplements. Vitamin World manufactures over 1,000 superior-quality vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other nutritional supplements in their own state-of-the-art facilities.

New to the Peninsula:

Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy, Mexican Restaurant & Bar: Abuelo’s will open its first restaurant in the Hampton Roads market with a new design of its Authentic Mexican Courtyard Atmosphere. It will offer colorful creations of Old Mexico with dishes ranging from the traditional to the adventurous. It’s designed for family gatherings or celebration with friends.

Anthony Vince Nail Spa, Nail Salon: Anthony Vince Nail Salon will offer a full line of nail services including manicures, pedicures and artificial nails in an elegant environment and spa like setting.

Bakers, Women’s Shoes: Not only is Bakers opening its first store on the Peninsula, but it is also their only new store opening in 2010. In addition to the Bakers brand, the stores also offer many other brands including Ed Hardy, Jessica Simpson, Baby Phat, Wild Pair, Guess, BCBGirls, Sole Project and Steve Madden. Bakers Footwear Group currently operates over 240 stores in 37 states.

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Toys: Not only will this be Build-A-Bear’s only store on the Peninsula, but it will also be the only new store opening in 2010. They are unveiling the latest and greatest NEW store prototype. The company operates more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Founded in St. Louis in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop is the leader in interactive retail.

Cache, Women’s Apparel: Caché is a nationwide women’s apparel retailer of sophisticated lifestyle sportswear, dresses and accessories targeting style-conscious women between the ages of 25-45. With more than 300 stores nationwide, this location will be the first store in the north side of the market.

Charming Charlie, Women’s Accessories, Handbags, & Costume Jewelry: Charming Charlie is an exciting new emerging brand, specializing in women’s accessories, handbags, & costume jewelry. Charming Charlie is fast becoming a leader in women’s accessories business. This will be their only store on the north side of the water. Base in Houston, Texas, Charming Charlie offers an amazing selection of handbags, shoes, jewelry, scarves and more at a value-oriented price point.

Emerson’s Cigars, Cigar Store: 2010 marks the 35th anniversary for Emerson’s, Hampton Roads premier cigar shop. Emerson’s will celebrate the year by opening its only store on the north side of the water at PTC. This flagship location will carry handmade cigars and bring cigar industry aficionados from around the world to Hampton.

H&M, Women’s, Men, & Children’s Apparel: H&M is a large specialty retailer. A Swedish based clothing company operating in 35 countries and known for its fashion clothing offerings for women, men, teenagers and children. Its philosophy is based on providing fashion and quality at the best price. H&M offers a broad range of choices that allows customers to find their own personal style. Collections cater to a varied clientele worldwide with the goal of satisfying different tastes and preferences. This store will be a full concept store and the first in the north side of the market.

Hollister, Unisex Junior Apparel: Hollister is an American lifestyle brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. designed to attract customers aged 14-18 through its Southern California-inspired image and casual wear. With more than 400 stores in the United States, the PTC location will not only be the first in the north side of the market, but will be one of their few new stores nationwide for 2010.

JoJack’s Espresso Cafe, Coffee/Pastries/Sandwiches Restaurant: Churchland’s home-grown multi-year winner of “Best of Hampton Roads” is opening its second location, and first on the peninsula. JoJack’s offers espresso and coffee drinks and an assortment of gourmet sandwiches, pastries, soups, and breakfast favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Limited, Women’s Apparel: The Limited is an iconic fashion retailer that offers high-quality, private-label apparel designed to help the young, professional, and modern woman succeed. With over 200 stores nationwide Peninsula is proud to offer the first store on the north side of the Peninsula.

Other new stores and restaurants:

Aeropostale, Unisex Junior Apparel: Aeropostale, or “Aero,” is a fashion retail chain offering casual clothing for teens and young adults. With more than 800 stores nationwide, the company provides customers with a focused selection of high-quality, active-oriented fashioned merchandise at compelling values.

Aveda Animare Salon, Skin Care & Salon: The Peninsula’s top Aveda salon operator will be bringing the art of hair styling and spa services to their newest location. The international Aveda line known for beauty through wellness is the leader in botanically based, all-natural hair-care, skin-care, makeup, and lifestyle products.

Bath & Body Works, Beauty & Soap Store: With over 1600 stores nationwide and in Canada, Bath & Body Works has reinvented the personal care industry with fragrant flavorful indulgences, including shower gels, lotions, candles and accessories. Bath & Body Works is committed to helping consumers improve their emotional and physical well being with an extensive collection of advanced, easy-to-use personal care products.

Bo Essentials, Beauty & Soap Store: Bo Essentials is locally owned and committed to providing environmentally friendly, all natural body bath, and home décor products with custom scents the customer can select. Whether it’s soap, body scrub, lip gloss or a stylish candle, Bö Essentials brings handmade luxury to its customers.

Chico’s, Women’s Apparel: Chico’s is a specialty retailer of private branded, sophisticate casual to dressy clothing, intimates and complementary accessories. It has more than 650 locations.

Claire’s, Junior Girls Jewelry & Accessories: Claire’s has chosen Peninsula Town Center as the location for its only new store opening 2010. This will launch the new store look in the region. Since 1974, Claire’s has offered fashion accessories and jewelry for tweens and teens between 7 and 18 years of age, while also being the ear piercing headquarters. Claire’s is the destination for tweens and teens around the world for a fun environment to shop for fashionable accessories and jewelry. There are more than 3,000 Claire’s stores and 400 Icing stores nationwide.

Express, Unisex Apparel: Express is known as a sexy and sophisticated fashion brand for apparel, handbags, coats and accessories for both women and men. With over 550 stores nationwide, Express is one of the fashion leaders in the American retail industry.

Finish Line, Athletic Shoes: Finish Line, one of the nation’s preeminent athletic footwear stores, offers a broad selection of performance and lifestyle athletic products that allow customers to express their own personalities. Finish Line strives to connect to young, fashion conscious individuals in an environment offering the best selection of authentic and sport inspired products.

Forever 21, Unisex Apparel: Offering fashion and accessories for women and men, the Forever21 store will be the newest store to the Virginia market. Primarily private label apparel, the well-known retailer will anchor the apparel tenant mix at the Peninsula Town Center.

G. Bates Ltd., Home Furnishings, Accessories, & Fashion: G. Bates, based in Colonial Williamsburg, is opening their second store in the region. A home decor and accessory store, G. Bates provides shoppers with home furnishings, the finest in oriental rugs, and unique specialty gifts along with selected collections of women’s fashion accessories and brands such as Vera Bradley.

GameStop, Video Game Store: GameStop is a large video game retailer.

Gymboree, Children’s & Infant Apparel: Gymboree has been dressing children since 1986. Their fashionable clothing and accessories are designed and crafted to withstand rugged play while letting kids be in fun outfits they love to wear. Available in sizes newborn to 12 years, Gymboree closing is designed to be colorful, comfortable fabrics and detailed touches throughout. Coordinating accessories complete every outfit making Gymboree kids unique from head-to-toe.

Journey’s, Unisex Shoes: Journey’s is a destination for fast-paced footwear and accessories for teens and twenties. Journey’s retail environment is designed to reflect their customers’ style and tastes.

Justice, Tween Apparel & Accessories: Justice offers fun fashion finds and the trendiest accessories just for girls age 7-14.

Kay Jewelers, Jewelry: Since 1916, Kay Jewelers has grown from one store to more than 900 from coast to coast.

Lane Bryant, Plus Size Women’s Apparel: Lane Bryant is a recognized name in plus-size specialty apparel retail providing stylish and high quality fashions.

Mekos Surf, Skate and More, Skate Board & Surf Apparel and Skate Park: Mekos is an indoor skatepark and extreme sports store offering over 10,000 square feet of state of the art equipment, clothing, and skating facilities.

New York & Company, Women’s Apparel: New York & Company is a nationwide specialty retailer of fashionable, attractively priced women’s apparel, accessories and beauty focusing on the “must have” trends of the season.

Sports Clips, Hair Salon: Sports Clips aims to provide a championship haircut experience for men and boys in an exciting sports-themed environment.

Sports Fan, Sports Apparel & Memorabilia: The retailer offering sporting team apparel and accessories will be opening their latest prototype here. Sports Fan brings the top athletic team jerseys, hats, shoes, and more to the stylish fans of Hampton Roads.

Thaijindesu, Thai & Japanese Restaurant: Thaijindesu is the newest asian-cuisine creation from local and internationally trained chef/owner Ken Khachenrum. The finest and freshest exotic ingredients will be brought in from around the world to create an unparalleled sushi and Thai menu. Serving lunch and dinner in a sleek, fun, and fashionable setting, Thaijindesu is set to become another local favorite.

Victoria’s Secret, Women’s Lingerie & Apparel: Victoria’s Secret has more than 1,000 stores nationwide. Modern, fashion-inspired collections, prestige fragrances and cosmetics, celebrated supermodels and world-famous runway shows are the hallmark of this sexy, glamorous brand.

Already open

Bd’s Mongolian Grill — Restaurant: With 35 locations in 13 states, the nation’s largest chain offering “make your own stir fry” has opened their first location in Virginia. This prototypical store features a traditional 8-foot “shield” grill where your food is stir-fried with 3′ swords as Mongolian warriors once did on the Mongolian plains. While “Mongolian barbecue” is not new to Hampton Roads, the level of quality, service, consistency, and finish of bd’s is world-class and unparalleled in its value for its patrons. These attributes have led it to be the dominant chain of Mongolian Grills in the USA.

Barnes & Noble, Books: Barnes & Noble is the world’s largest bookseller and the nation’s highest rated bookselling brand. It has opened at PTC offering a wide selection of books, music, DVD, and magazines within a comfortable ambiance. The Starbucks café adds to the creation of a great gathering place immediately adjacent to the main Town Square.

Chipotle, Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant: The Chipotle restaurant brand is known for its large burritos, assembly line production, and use of natural ingredients making every effort to use organic ingredients.

Five Guys, Fast Casual Burger Restaurant: America’s hottest new burger chain has opened its first unit in the Hampton-Newport News market to great fanfare.

LensCrafters, Optical Store: LensCrafters offers the latest designer frames including their signature FeatherWates lenses for a complete pair of high quality eye glasses.

Mattress Discounters, Mattress Store: With over 30 years of experience, Mattress Discounters strives to perfect the way people get a good night’s sleep.

The Pub, English Restaurant & Pub: This nine unit chain of authentic English Pubs has opened at Peninsula Town Center to much success as the only unit in Hampton Roads. The Pub is known for its collection of 28 beers on tap from around the world, great collection of single malt scotches, and fine pub fare.

Copyright © 2010, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

October 23, 2009

“What about the rest of Mercury?”

Filed under: "coliseum mall",newmarket fair mall — Anita @ 12:38 am
Top: For lease signs line are placed along West Mercury Boulevard, a busy stretch that serves as Hamptons primary business corridor. Below: The lot at Newmarket South shopping center is mostly empty on a weekday morning. (Daily Press photos by Sangjib Min (top) and Dennis Tennant (bottom) / October 3, 2009)

Top: For lease signs line are placed along West Mercury Boulevard, a busy stretch that serves as Hampton's primary business corridor. Below: The lot at Newmarket South shopping center is mostly empty on a weekday morning. (Daily Press photos by Sangjib Min (top) and Dennis Tennant (bottom) / October 3, 2009)

dailypress.com

By Veronica Chufo

247-4741

11:12 PM EDT, October 3, 2009

HAMPTON — The Peninsula Town Center is rising from the rubble of the Coliseum Mall.

The development of big-name retailers, anchored by Target, J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Barnes & Noble, is taking shape off West Mercury Boulevard.

Two new restaurants have recently opened, and a third is on the way.

At the nearby Power Plant, a NASCAR Sports Grille restaurant is expected soon.

But the Mercury makeover largely stops around Aberdeen Road.

West of there, the number of new buildings and national retailers dwindle.

Payday lending businesses, beauty supply shops, dollar stores and thrift stores are common in the strip lined with mostly older plazas, many of them with space for lease.

It’s a tale of two Mercurys — one new and master-planned, the other a hodgepodge of aging strip malls and commercial buildings.

The landscape of Mercury east of Aberdeen, in the Coliseum Central Business Improvement District, has changed in recent years, but redevelopment has been slow in coming to the rest of West Mercury Boulevard — a busy corridor traveled by more than 53,000 vehicles a day.

In 2004, the city of Hampton adopted a master plan mapping out future development of the Coliseum area. The plan ends at Aberdeen Road.

Hampton’s top development official said the city is working with business owners but acknowledged that more can be done.

“We all acknowledge that that probably is worth some sort of planning effort to that stretch,” said Economic Development Director James Eason. “But we’ve been so busy with the Coliseum Central master plan that we haven’t had a whole lot of time to focus on that area between Aberdeen and Jefferson. There are definitely some areas in there that need it.”

Mercury’s history

Mercury Boulevard was built in 1942 as Military Highway to connect military bases. Since then, it has become a vital east-west artery on the lower Peninsula and an entree to Interstate 64.

The corridor was once dotted with malls. There was the now-demolished Mercury Mall, built in 1967. It was followed by the Coliseum Mall, which was torn down to make way for the highly promoted Peninsula Town Center; and Newmarket North, which is now used for office space.

With malls at both ends, Mercury Boulevard grew up as a retail corridor, said Chris Rouzie, a senior vice president in the Newport News office of Thalhimer, a commercial real estate firm. That made it the place to shop on the lower Peninsula until 1993, when taxable sales in Newport News first topped taxable sales in Hampton, Eason said.

But over time, as the Peninsula’s population shifted north, Jefferson Avenue became the preferred spot for retail. It’s home to the Patrick Henry Mall, built in 1987, the City Center at Oyster Point, Port Warwick and national retailers such as Best Buy, Sam’s Club and Kohl’s. Some businesses, including Haynes Furniture and the former Circuit City, vacated Mercury stores in favor of Jefferson.

“Retail tends to follow money and growth,” said H. Blount Hunter, of H. Blount Hunter Retail and Real Estate Research Co. of Norfolk. “That’s been sort of a northern movement on the Peninsula. You don’t find all those for-rent signs on Jefferson Avenue.”

Jefferson is also a more centrally located corridor on the Peninsula, easy to get to for residents from Williamsburg to Hampton.

“If you’re a retailer that looks at the Peninsula and only needs one location, then Jefferson is an ideal location,” Rouzie said. “Jefferson is in the middle.”

Hampton is fighting back. As business-associated revenue flowing into Hampton’s coffers dwindled, the city launched projects such as the Power Plant and the Peninsula Town Center to woo retailers and shoppers back, Eason said.

Those two projects are filling up, with a grand opening scheduled for the Peninsula Town Center next spring. That’s expected to be followed by redevelopment of the Riverdale Shopping Center to complement the Town Center, Eason said.

Chronic vacancies

But along Mercury west of Aberdeen, vacancies seem to be chronic, Hunter said. That makes him think it’s overbuilt.

“That’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room that everybody is afraid to admit,” said Hunter, who conducts consumer research and retail real estate studies. “We have excess capacity.”

And it’s not easy to find lasting tenants for older buildings, he said.

“Poor-quality shopping centers attract marginal-quality tenants. So if a shopping center is in bad repair or needs to be updated, they’re not going to get a quality tenant,” Hunter said.

The current economic picture isn’t helping. Of the commercial real estate sectors, retail may have taken the hardest hit, as thousands of businesses across the country close their doors, said Peter Eckert, president of the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate. Retail is what makes up a lot of Mercury’s development.

Vacancies are bad for business.

Rodney Alexander is manager of Best Way, a rent-to-own business in a plaza that includes a vacant storefront and a dialysis center.

Having a vacancy next door cuts down on walk-through traffic, he said.

Best Way has been in business for going on 25 years, 10 of those in its current location.

“Everybody’s trying to move into the new developments,” Alexander said. “That new curb appeal attracts a lot of people, that new storefront.”

People think new developments are safer and better illuminated than an aging, half-vacant plaza, Alexander said.

Aging plazas, future potential

Hampton offers incentives to spur aging commercial properties, including shopping centers, to rehabilitate. So far, only one property on Mercury Boulevard between I-64 and the James River Bridge has participated, city officials said.

Some of the shopping centers have been there since the 1950s. Declining retail strips like Mercury Boulevard can be found throughout the United States. Because they’re aging and expansive, they’re costly to rehabilitate or redevelop, especially for budget-strapped cities and counties struggling to meet basic needs like education and public safety.

“It’s very hard for those kind of buildings to succeed now, particularly with the newer stuff going up,” Eason said.

But there’s hope.

Peninsula Town Center could add more traffic to Mercury, which could lead to more eyes on, and more opportunities for, businesses along that stretch. Coliseum Central retailers already trace many of their customers from south of the James River Bridge, Eason said, and he expects that customer base to follow at the Peninsula Town Center.

So business and plaza owners along Mercury Boulevard will see the benefit to investing in upgrades to attract those shoppers, he said. That’s already happening, with a new Peninsula Honda building and CVS pharmacy.

“It’s no question it’s going to have an impact,” Eason said.

Copyright © 2009, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

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