Mall’s new owners hope to re-energize

Published 10:20 pm Monday, February 26, 2018

Chesapeake Square Mall has struggled over the years. Built in 1989, its value dropped as shoppers left malls for online shopping. The mall has lost several major anchor stores, and in 2016, the mall fell into foreclosure.

It’s those concerns for Chesapeake Square that Mayor Rick West directly addressed during the Annual Chesapeake State of the City Address on Thursday.

“Ever since I joined the City Council, when we heard from the people in Western Branch, the chorus was the same: do something about that mall,” West said. “Well, we heard you, and we’ve got an exciting announcement.

Email newsletter signup

“Many of you already know, but the mall has been sold, and its future is already brightening.”

Virginia Beach-based Kotarides Holdings bought 613,809 square feet of the mall for $12.9 million. The real estate firm specializes in single-family and multi-family residences and mixed-use acquisition and development.

The firm is already familiar with the Western Branch community through projects such as Clairmont at Jolliff Landing, a 304-unit luxury apartment community, and Townhomes at Jolliff Landing, both of which are less than four miles from the mall down Portsmouth Boulevard.

“They’ve got some great things planned in that area, anchoring a continued resurgence of Chesapeake’s western borders,” West said.

Four of the mall’s six anchor spaces are occupied by J.C. Penney, Burlington Coat Factory, Target and Cinemark Chesapeake Square. Target and Cinemark own their spaces and were not part of the sale. The two remaining spaces have been vacant since the loss of Macy’s in 2016 and Sears in 2015.

Along with Macy’s and Sears, the Gymboree Corporation closed its Chesapeake Square location along with hundreds more nationwide. The Family Christian Store did the same in February 2017.

The mall was put up for sale by the Loan and Asset Sales Group of Mission Capital Advisors in August 2017.

“We just want to be a little more creative than the recent owners and try to come up with different events and activities to draw more people to the mall,” Kotarides Companies Director of Finance Charles Einwick said in a phone interview.

Einwick suggested a farmer’s market, 5Ks and other family-friendly events to benefit the community and increase foot traffic at the mall, with accessibility via I-664 nearby.

“We just want it to be known more as a destination type of place for community events, and we’re going to be looking at all kinds of different options,” he said.

Nearby residents on Facebook posted what they would like to see at the mall, such as the proposed sports plex and new restaurants and clothing stores.

“My teenager said she would like more teen-centered clothing stores like PacSun,” Facebook user Mere Daugherty wrote in response to a Suffolk News-Herald post. “I would love a good, solid department store and a Barnes and Noble.”

Several said that the mall was long overdue for renovations, and others advocated to demolish the structure for something new.

“It would be great if they redesigned the mall similar to the Peninsula Town Center,” Facebook user Deanna N. Powell-Brickhouse wrote. “I would recommend having smaller stores and more restaurants. More and more people are shopping online, so stores don’t need larger inventories.”

“Tear it down and start over,” Facebook user David Morse said. “Malls are closing everywhere. Need a new concept to compete with online.”

Einwick said part of their job is to change the perception people have of Chesapeake Square Mall.

“We just want there to be a new energy at the mall that will help build upon things,” he said.