‘We don’t know where to go’: Stores still in Virginia Center Commons forced to move, told mall will close Oct. 31
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A business owner at Virginia Center Commons reached out to 12 On Your Side after learning the remainder of the mall will be closing on Oct. 31.
Mia Canada says she signed a year-long lease on June 1. The owner of Mi Angel Palace - an adult clothing boutique and children’s thrift store - is now searching for a new location. Canada says she is not the only one.
“A lot of our children’s stuff is $3 and under right now because we are having a blowout sale; all children clothes are one dollar and under. We do $3 and under just to give needy families a chance to shop somewhere,” explained Canada. “We try to keep everything affordable for all people.”
Mi Angel Palace also donates clothes to families in need, offering clothing and meals several times a year.
She moved to Virginia Center Commons mall after several years near Forest Hill and Jahnke Road. Her last storefront closed because the property was demolished. Canada was drawn to the area after learning of plans to revitalize it.
“It took us a little over a year and a half to find a space, and we found this,” she said. “They said they would be building apartments on the left side, so we did see potential clientele and a lot of good business.”
Canada says the business has struggled in VCC mall, and on Aug. 1, just 90 days into her lease, she was sent a letter saying the mall is closing on Oct. 31.
The On Your Side Investigators confirmed with mall management, who wrote:
Virginia Center Commons will be closed after business concludes on October 31, 2022. This is part the redevelopment that includes the new Henrico Sports and Convocation Center.
Demolition started in 2021 for a sports facility and convocation center with more than 115,000 square feet of space for 12 basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts, an arena with stadium seating, and 3,500 fixed seats.
In a recent press conference, Henrico County leaders announced they are looking towards a completion date of 2023 for the site that is currently under construction. Officials are also working on the first full-year venue calendar for 2024.
Part of the mall remained open, with close to a dozen stores still operating, but Canada has continued to watch larger stores pack up and leave.
“Rainbow left first. DTLR packed up the other day, Jimmy Jazz is leaving next, Bath and Body works is leaving, and Burlington is leaving,” Canada said.
She is now closed on Monday and Tuesday to search for a new storefront. Though she is not being asked to pay the remainder of the lease, Canada says she does wish there had been an option to sign month to month or for six months.
“We are looking for something affordable, whether East, South, North or West. We want to find something affordable,” she explained. “We want to continue our non-profit, helping needy families and children, and we honestly just need help at this point. We need help with finances, and we need help with a new area; we don’t know where to go.”
While Canada says she was told the remainder of the mall would be demolished, mall management did not respond to that question. When asked if tenants were made aware of the closure before signing recent leases, mall management wrote:
We do not discuss details of our leases. We are working to help our tenants find other locations and have been able to secure new spots for some of them. Security deposits are always returned to tenants who depart in good standing.
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