That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

January 31, 2007

Coliseum Mall being demolished for ‘Peninsula Town Center’

Filed under: "coliseum mall" — Anita @ 5:58 pm

{wow! the pilot is just so on top of things! [/sarcasm]}

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By MICHELLE E. SHAW, The Virginian-Pilot
© January 31, 2007

HAMPTON – Tearing down Coliseum Mall was not part of the initial renovation plan.

“When we shared our original ideas with retailers, they said it wasn’t enough,” said Raymond Tripp, the mall’s general manager. “Just remodeling wasn’t going to get it done, they said.”

Today, the former Dillard’s department store is gone, and wrecking crews are poised to raze much of what’s left of the 1 million- square-foot mall just off of Interstate 64 and Mercury Boulevard, near the Hampton Coliseum.

In its place will rise Peninsula Town Center, a network of streets and buildings featuring residential, office and retail space with a construction price tag of more than $200 million.

The town center will be more of a destination, said Justin Leyda, a development executive with Steiner and Associates, the development group working on the project with the center’s owners, Mall Properties Inc.

“You won’t have just a single purpose for visiting this area,” Leyda said. “This will not be just a retail establishment.”

Poquoson residents Richmond and Charlotte Long, shopping in the mall on a recent Monday, welcome the changes.

“It’s lost its appeal,” Richmond Long said.

“They have to do something to bring the people back,” his wife added. “And I think this might work.”

The city of Hampton certainly thinks so. It projects that Peninsula Town Center will generate $6 million a year in tax revenue once it’s completed and businesses are open in 2009, said Kathy Grook, a senior development manager in Hampton’s economic development department. In recent years, she said, the mall, which opened in 1973, has produced about $3 million a year in tax revenue.

“We think Peninsula Town Center will do more to establish us as a destination,” she said. “We’ve already seen some private investment taking place as a result of this.”

Before the new town center can emerge, the old mall must be torn down. Getting the mall ready for demolition is no easy task, said Tripp, who has managed Coliseum Mall for 16 years.

“Just taking the building apart is complicated,” he said. “I’ve got water meters that need to come out and be collected, utilities that need to be disconnected. When the building was built, there were about 110 small spaces that were designed, and you’ve got to realize we’ve chopped and added and all of that, so who knows what else has to happen.”

Tearing down the mall includes helping to relocate dozens of tenants, putting on a job fair for more than 50 employees who will lose their jobs and finding a place for the Mall Striders walking club to exercise, Tripp said.

The next phase of demolition is tentatively scheduled for March, but Tripp said he’s got to make sure all of the tenants are out first. Even though the mall closed in mid-January, a handful of stores remain open.

“We hadn’t finalized our negotiations,” he said. “But now we have, and thank goodness we did, because I can’t tear down a building with people in it.”

One issue has been access to the mall’s LensCrafters, which is tentatively scheduled to relocate in mid-February. The eyewear store’s exterior mall entrance is in a construction zone, so the mall’s interior is being kept open until LensCrafters’ temporary location at the nearby Mercury Plaza is ready in late February or early March, Tripp said.

“We’ll actually start some real hard demolition sometime in mid-March or at the end of March,” he said. “It’s all a matter of timing. We’re going to start the first part of the demolition down by Macy’s and work back this way, so by the time we get to LensCrafters we’ll have them in their temporary quarters.”

Other retailers still open at the mall are Barnes & Noble, Burlington Coat Factory, JC Penney and Macy’s. The bookseller is scheduled to close around the same time as LensCrafters and the coat factory will permanently relocate to a new building at Mercury Plaza.

“Penney’s new building is under construction where the old Dillard’s used to be,” Tripp said. “They will only close long enough to transfer the merchandise. Macy’s however, will never close. They will remain in that building.”

Even after all of the moves are made and Coliseum Mall comes tumbling down, Tripp said his work will not be complete.

“I’ve never de-malled a mall before, so I don’t know if things will slow down or not,” he said. “How about I’ll let you know when it’s all over.”

  • Reach Michelle E. Shaw at (757) 446-2667 or
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    1 Comment »

    1. Anita: Mall killer on the run again. This from

      Mercury Plaza is now in the process of redevelopment. Texas Steakhouse Saloon, Cracker Barrel and Wachovia are open. Burlington Coat Factory and Firestone Tires will be moving to Mercury Plaza from Coliseum Mall. New announcements regarding this exciting redevelopment project will be available soon, so keep your eyes and ears open!

      And all this time, I thought they were trying to upscale the area of Power Plant. Why not put Burlington in Riverdale in the ever-empty Hill’s Department Store? Guess that would make too much sense!

      Comment by Silver Blue — January 31, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

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