The mall is halfway to a new look as well as a new mix of stores and restaurants.
BY PATRICK LYNCH
August 25 2005
NEWPORT NEWS — The $25 million overhaul of Patrick Henry Mall has rounded the midway point, as construction crews are working in double shifts to add several new anchor stores and give the old mall a new look inside and out.
Mall officials are aiming for a November grand reopening but opened the door to the mall’s construction zone Wednesday for a peek at the space that will house Border’s bookstore, Dick’s Sporting Goods, a Red Robin restaurant and more.
The changes are an attempt to remake Patrick Henry Mall and secure the 18-year-old mall’s place as the destination shopping center in the corridor from Denbigh to Oyster Point.
“We’re an ’80s mall right now,” said mall general manager Roger W. Brown, who has worked as Patrick Henry’s only manager since it opened in 1987. “If you don’t do this you’re going to be behind the eight-ball. We couldn’t stay like we were with everything else coming in. We’re outdated.”
Though none are as large as the mall, new shopping opportunities continue to open along Jefferson Avenue, from Jefferson Commons, anchored by Kohl’s, to the small stores at Port Warwick and City Center at Oyster Point and the planned mixed-use community Patrick Henry Marketplace.
Patrick Henry Mall has been one of the best-performing properties for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, the publicly traded company that owns the mall. Patrick Henry earns more in terms of dollars per square feet than any mall owned by the company, Brown said.
But with the added competition and nearly two-decade old decor, the reinvestment in the mall is intended to spark more interest in the property.
The addition of new anchor stores “reaffirms us as a destination mall,” said Moffat Welsh, regional marketing director for PREIT.
PREIT’s market data also predicts income growth of 27 percent for the area by 2009, and the company would like to be in a position to capture some of the disposable income, Welsh said.
The construction at the mall, which started in May, will add space and new exterior details like a fountain, arches, towers and brick; and new interior detailing such as wood-like millwork, ornate lighting and more luxurious seating areas.
Drivers on Interstate 64 will see a revamped north face of the mall. A mix of towers, arches, awnings and flags will sharply differ from the previous flat facade.
The food court seating will center around a large fireplace. “Soft seating” areas with carpet and couches will mark four courtyards.
Workers have already vaulted ceilings throughout the mall to provide a more airy space.
New and larger skylights – some already have been installed – allow more natural light to flood the mall’s long corridors. A central courtyard near what is now the entrance next to Ruby Tuesday’s will feature two large skylights and access to Border’s and Dick’s.
Stores such as American Eagle and new addition New York & Co. – a women’s fashion store – also will be positioned there.
Brown, Welsh and marketing director Steven Givens are planning two grand re-openings, one for November this year – when most work should be completed – and one for the first quarter of 2006, when all the work should be done.
Copyright © 2005, Daily Press