Does Richmond have too many malls?

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Three stores are now pulling out of Regency Square Mall in Henrico. This comes after the mall owners gave the shopping center back to the bank. Older malls are having to compete with the area's newer malls and its raising the question: Does Richmond have too many malls?

Williams-Sonoma, For Your Entertainment, and Famous Footwear are bagging it in Regency Square Mall. Mall owners Taubman Centers have returned the shopping center to the bank, saying it's not making enough money. But VCU business school's Dr. David Urban says the problem is not necessarily that Richmond has too many malls, it's that populations shift.

Said Dr. Urban, "Regency for example, which when I came here 20 years ago was the premier mall in this area, is not the premier mall anymore and largely because population has shifted farther out and new malls have come in to take their place."

Urban says the newer Short Pump Town Center thrives because of it's open space and Stony Point Fashion Park hopes to attract more customers with additions like Cinebistro and something they expect to name soon. If a new buyer doesn't rescue Regency Square, it could mean job losses and a vacant building, much like the former Cloverleaf Mall.

"It's really a drag on the perceptions of the area because people look at this big vacant spot and they say, gee, what does that say about the economic vitality of the area?" Urban said.

To rescue a mall, Urban says, usually takes all new stores, or a new business or school to move in. Developers hope to convert Cloverleaf into a new space of shops and apartments. But all the shopping centers will not only have to compete with each other, but with the growing popularity of online shopping.

"Every time we look at statistics for on line shopping, any projections about online shopping are always exceeded in actuality," Urban said.

As soon as we learn what the new feature will be at Stony Point Fashion Park, we will let you know.

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