From the Springfield Connection:
At its May 18 meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a rezoning proposal and finally sign off on the transformation of the Springfield Mall into a commercial and residential town center.
The mall’s owner, Vornado Realty Trust, plans to redevelop the 80-acre suburban retail shopping center into an area where people will be able to live, work, dine and entertain themselves — all without getting into a car.
According to the Web site, http://www.springfieldtowncenter.com, the new town center would include high-quality retailers, a state of-the-art movie theater, “Class-A” office space, upscale hotels and “premier” residential homes.
Vornado’s plans also include parks and plazas with pathways that make travel between residential and commercial space easy. According to the Web site, parking would be offered throughout the development.
“This is the single most important project for Springfield obviously, but I think it is also the most important project for the entire county. I can’t think of another regional shopping center that is in such dire need,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee), who represents the area where the Springfield Mall is located.
The Springfield Mall has many amenities some of the county’s higher performing shopping centers, including Tysons Corner, Fairfax Corner and Reston Town Center, lack. The mall is at the crossroads of Northern Virginia’s two major thoroughfares, the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95, and is in close proximity to a Metro station.
McKay said the mall has not lived in up to its potential, primarily because of poor and irresponsible ownership in the past. With Vornado at the helm of the redevelopment project, he expected the site to flourish.
“Springfield Mall had everything that Tysons Corner craved, except a good owner. There is no reason why that mall can’t exceed Tysons Corner in quality when it has everything going for it that it has,” said McKay.
McKay and other supervisors have been frustrated with recent delays in getting the Springfield development underway.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the site’s rezoning application in February and the supervisors were supposed to vote on the plans in late March. But negotiations between the Target store and Vornado held up the supervisors’ final approval.
“It is unfortunate that Target and Vornado had not talked earlier in the process than they did on some of these last-minute details,” said Stuart Mendelsohn, Target’s lawyer and former Dranesville supervisor.
Target, one of the mall’s current retail anchors, owns the land on which its store sits and has more control over what happens to its property than most of the mall’s other retail outlets.
The mall redevelopment plans called for the current Target to grow from a one-floor store to a two-floor store; however, the company did not want to be locked into any specific expansion plans.
“Ultimately, I think [the expansion] is what they would like to do but, at this point, they were not prepared to move forward on that,” said Mendelsohn.
Target was also displeased with the configuration of the parking garage that is planned for outside the store’s entrance, said Mendelsohn and McKay.
But ultimately, Target is excited about the Springfield Mall redevelopment and wants the project to move forward.
“Target is absolutely supportive of all the changes coming to the mall,” said Mendelsohn.