Landmark Mall; Alexandria, Virginia

Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006

The Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia is one of those curious cases where its really surprising that the mall became a dead mall. Landmark seemingly had the right ingredients; a nice facility at a solid, high-traffic location in a relatively affluent, high-population area. What’s more, the only mall very nearby that’s in direct competition is the also-faltering Springfield Mall, which seems to have something of a bad reputation. What gives?

Alexandria Landmark Mall sign in July 2006The Landmark Mall originally opened in 1965, although I believe the center was originally an open air plaza that was dramatically different than the mall of today. The center was anchored by Hecht’s, Sears, and Woodward & Lothrop. The center was dramatically reconfigured and enclosed in 1990, turning the mall into a giant and modern “U”-shaped, three level center with tons of skylights filtering natural light into the center. The Woodward & Lothrop store was in the center of the “U,” with the Sears and Hecht’s stores on either end of the mall, and entrances to the parking lot from either the top portions on either side of the “U” or from the very bottom. Most of the mall was two level, but there was a third level food court with an entrance into the Woodies at the lower portion of the U.

Woodward & Lothrop went out of business in 1995, and their store at Landmark became a JCPenney. However, low sales caused the JCPenney store to shut in a round of closings in 2000 (when Penney’s was in quite a bit of trouble–something that’s hard to imagine now). Around 2001, there was a major push to reposition the mall, and a large amount of space was retenanted. A large portion of the second level of the Sears wing became an Old Navy store, and the vacant JCPenney was replaced by a brand new Lord & Taylor store in an attempt to make Landmark skew a bit more upscale.

This renaissance was very short-lived, however. Within a few years, many of the stores had fled the mall, leaving many of the few remaining tenants clustered around center court. The Sears wing, in particular, was a ghost town by 2005, with the Old Navy having exited along with many of the other small tenants. The pictures shown here were taken on my second visit to the Landmark Mall in July 2006, when the mall seemed about half empty. Note that the Hecht’s signage is still in place.

Hecht's at Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006

In 2004, the mall was bought by General Growth Properties, and in 2005 they announced a plan to dramatically reconfigure the center by demolishing most of the mall’s interior and replacing it with a lifestyle center. The Sears and Hecht’s (now Macy’s) anchors were to remain, but most of the rest of the center would be history. In addition to a retail component, the new center–to be dubbed Landmark Village–would include more dining options, housing (over 1,600 condos, so a lot of housing), and a 400 room hotel. There’d also probably be a gazebo, since there always is.
Has anyone been by to the Landmark Mall recently? How is it doing? Is Lord & Taylor still open (I could’ve sworn it was closed a year ago, but the interwebs seems to disagree with me. Maybe it was just that it downsized to two levels).

Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006

Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006

Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006 Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, July 2006

Author: Caldor

Jason Damas is a search engine marketing analyst and consultant, and a freelance journalist. Jason graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Music Industry. He has regularly contributed to The Boston Globe,, Amplifier Magazine, All Music Guide, and 168 Magazine. In addition, he was a manager for a record store for over two years. Currently, he focuses on helping companies optimize their web sites to maximize search engine visibility, and is responsible for website conversion analysis, which aims to improve conversion rates by making e-commerce websites more user-friendly. He lives in suburban Boston.

67 thoughts on “Landmark Mall; Alexandria, Virginia”

  1. It’s always a treat being able to see some old Hecht’s signage.

    Regarding JCPenney’s store closures in the DC area, I must say that I am shocked that they chose to close their store at Tyson’s Corner Center, one of the country’s most successful mall’s. I honestly have no idea why they chose to close that store: perhaps it was because the rent at such an upscale mall was too expensive, yet that explanation doesn’t make too much sense given the fact that JCPenney still has stores at other upscale malls such as NY’s Roosevelt Field Mall and CA’s Fashion Valley Mall.

  2. Lord & Taylor is still open and is only open on two levels. The sign for Lord & Taylor on the parking garage that faces I-395 has only been 1/4 lit for years. The mall gets progressively quiter but it wouldn’t make my top 10.

  3. Actually when I’ve been in the mall the past year it has only been for Lord & Taylor. (I don’t step foot into Macy’s after what they’ve done to Hecht’s and everywhere else.) And I retract my earlier post, it looks alot more dead than i remember. I also know that they sublease their parking lot.

  4. Wonderful choice of a mall to do a report here on! On my way to VA Beach, I stopped here for a bite. The Lord and Taylor is indeed open, but it does not look like a typical Lord and Taylor. The only entrance is in the parking garage to get into the L & T. The Lord and Taylor does not have a bad selection of clothing, although it is not as good as the other stores’. There was also a carnival at the mall when I went.

  5. I vividly remember Landmark Mall and always thought it was unique both in architecture and in use of overpasses accessing and going around the mall. It is a nice looking mall with a modern design and you’d think that shops would be attracted to that area. It is sad to see its demise and I could think of a few reasons as to why.

    1) While it may be at a good highway location (I-395 and Duke Street), there is little in this mall that is unique…if I lived in DC, I probably wouldn’t head down this way due to the fact that Pentagon City is much closer, has better stores and has direct Metro Access (Van Dorn Street is still about a mile or two away). Without the use of the Metro, the Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria area is the best in the DC Metro area for shopping and has the most choices.

    2) Construction and traffic: With the nearby Springfield Interchange being constructed, nobody wants to go in this area of Fairfax County. It has helped to contribute not only to the demise of Landmark Mall, but also to Springfield Mall.

    3) Crime: Springfield Mall suffers the same problem, as does Landmark Mall. Plus the perception of crime factor helps to send a lot of people away from the mall and as a result, more shoppers will go to Tysons Corner or Fair Oaks.

    Like you, Max, I was quite surprised when JCPenney closed their higher performing locations in the DC Metro Area a few years back (namely Tysons Corner and Montgomery Mall), but Tysons is better off without it. They built an incredibly large lifestyle/entertainment wing in its place and the AMC Theatre, Barnes and Noble, as well as the added food court and restaurants make a lot more money for the mall.

    I would hope that somebody can thow Landmark Mall a lifeline, but I’m not quite sure it will survive. I would be interested, however, in seeing a re-merchandising once the Springfield Interchange is completed and if a large movie theater and/or Barnes and Noble/Borders is put in there, things could possibly change for the better.

  6. Like Springfield, this is a relatively small mall that had a fairly ordinary tenant mix, even in its best days. Much the same also could be said for the smaller Ballston Common in Arlington which lost a long running JC Penney in an earlier round of closings. Having several small, ordinary malls close together has not been helpful to any of them esp. given the limited space for expansion. The Lord & Taylor was probably meant to replace the old freestanding one near 7 Corners (another decommissioned mall that’s not too far away).

    This wasn’t a real high volume mall 10 years ago and it’s decline probably has been hastened by the construction on the nearby “mixing bowl” interchange. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction on the Beltway and the poor infrastructure S of the mall probably hasn’t helped, either–those growth area are probably more drawn to Potomac Mills. The area around the mall can be a little confusing and it has not grown a “hinterland” of big boxes to help sustain mall traffic. Pentagon City is the real success story and despite being an area with confusing traffic patterns and a semi-dying office complex nearby (Crystal City), it’s prospered and big boxes have come to it.There’s also been continuing development of places closer-in in Alexandria.

    Like many places, there’s too much retail space in the inner NoVA suburbs and it’s fragmented among several second string malls like this one. If one of these was turned into something else (maybe an office complex), it wouldn’t be the end of the world and it help all the others survive.


  8. Never really hung out at this mall other than the arcade which was on the top food court level. I was there in 2004 and nobody else was in the arcade with me. I believe the arcade then closed a few weeks later. A large group of high school aged metalheads used to hang there back in the 1990’s but unfortunately I was only in 2nd grade at the time.

  9. Hi. I’m a new commentator here at labelscar, and I’d just like to share some of my comments here. I live a river away from this mall, and my grandfather lives literally in alexandria and used to shop there all the time. I haven’t been here in a long time though, and it dosen’t look like I will before it turns to L.V. because lo and behold, granddaddy has to have artery bypass surgery. Anyways, I have very fond memories of this mall. There used to be an American Cafe under one of the entrances that I ate at whenever I went up there, and there was also a BK where I had my final meal with my Grandmother before she croaked.

    That’s all I have to say, and well, keep up the good work, caldor & prangeway!

  10. JCPenney dumped most of their DC area stores because they were underperforming. In the case of Tysons Corner Center, the store was too large for the volume it was doing, yet not productive enough to remodel.

    The Hecht’s at Landmark looks a lot like the Hecht’s at Tysons Corner Center. I’d suppose that it did the most business of Landmark’s anchors before the Macy’s conversion. Now, I’m not so sure, since you can get better shopping and a better Macy’s just down the street at Pentagon City.

  11. There was a champs sports store on the second level and this one white guy who worked there was well over 7 feet tall. If I remember correctly he played basketball at UVA for a couple of seasons but then he got injured. I do not think he was a metalhead though.




  13. re: Steve Swain’s comment: Tyson’s original structure (where Hecht was an original tenant) & Landmark opened fairly close in time to each other. The Hecht/Macy stores probably started out as identical.

    It’s odd that JC Penney closed a large store at Tyson’s only to buy a large store at Wheaton from Woodward & Lothrop. Also surprising is the number of stores they closed in the northern VA suburbs in areas that should have been strong markets for them. By contrast, they seem to have stuck with what they bought in the Maryland suburbs.

  14. I’ve been waiting for a Landmark Mall writeup! I lived in this neighborhood for a few years and occasionally shopped here. Thanks Caldor!

    I’m a little surprised that only one person has mentioned the carnivals that are held in the mall parking lot. My wife and I were always surprised by how often the carnival was held here. It seemed like it would show up at least 4 times a year. I even recall seeing it once in late October or early November, long after I’d have thought it would have turned too cold to have them.

  15. Someone above mentioned crime as a problem here. The shopping center nearest to me is the Willowbrook Mall in New Jersey, and carjacking is a problem there. Is it the same at Landmark? I highly doubt it would be, but who knows. Anyways, what is the state of the Lord and Taylor here, and does anyone think it will close?

  16. I have been to Landmark occasionally over the years and have noticed the steady decline. The mall is at least 50% vacant now, with many of the remaining stores being the mom & pop type. The Sears and Macy’s appear to still be doing OK, but the Lord & Taylor looked very bare, with most of the merchandise on sale. There weren’t any “store closing” signs, but I wouldn’t be suprised if the store closed within a year or so. I also wouldn’t be suprised to see the Macy’s closed eventually, since there are Macy’s stores not too far to the north (Pentagon City) and south (Springfield Mall).

    Adding on to some earlier posts about the JCPenney at Tysons, I remember hearing from others that the owners of Tysons Corner had been wanting to add a large movie theater for years but didn’t have the space for it. They said that the mall offered Penney’s a good price to buy the store and since sales were only average (I never remember the store being terribly busy) they decided to cash out.

  17. I’ve read other people’s posts about Landmark and see a lot of good points.

    People keep talking about how the construction of the Springfield interchange doomed the mall. I don’t think that’s what happened.

    I think a couple of other factors doomed the mall and both happened simultaneously:

    1) The development of bigger, or more upscale, retail centers (Potomac Yards, Kingstowne, The Market Common in Clarendon). People had more choices with better selection, which drew customers away from Landmark. A lot of these new retail centers have the new “it” stores like Sports Authority, World Market, Barnes and Noble, The Container Store, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, etc. Landmark has does not have any of these new stores and sits at a disadvantage for drawing new customers.

    2) Decline of nice stores in Landmark. I watched over the years as Landmark hemmorhaged quality stores: Lechters, Brentanos, Gap, Barnie’s Coffee, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Eddie Bauer. All of these stores were replaced by crappy no-name stores (if they were replaced at all). This made the mall less attractive as a one-stop shopping destination or as a place to randomly shop – unless you want to shop at stores you have never heard of for cheap crap you would never buy. Now if you go there you can walk past a lot of empty, boarded over store fronts, which is not how I want to spend a Saturday afternoon.

    I used to like going to the food court as well, but that has also gone down hill. There are only 4 restaurants in a court large enough for 8-10.

    The two reasons I stated above are why I stopped going to the mall and I suspect others have as well. It’s near several well travelled intersections and in the middle of Alexandria, which makes it more convenient that Springfield Mall or Pentagon City Mall (for Alexandrians). I lived in Alexandria, so it was a convenient, nice mall. But that was then and this is now. As the mall has lost good stores I have gone there less and less. And with the development of nicer retail centers (Potomac Yards, Kingstowne, The Market Common in Clarendon), it has supplanted Landmark as a place to shop and kill time.

    I went to the mall a few weeks ago for the first time in two years. I needed a Macy’s gift card and it was the closest place. The mall has continued to decline. Except for the anchor stores (Macy’s, Sears, Lord and Taylor) there are really no stores left that I have heard of. The food court still has Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell, but I don’t know how long they will hang on. Oh and with the decline in good stores led to a changing demographic among the shoppers. I didn’t see any white people in there, just a bunch of Arabs, Somalis, and Hispanics. It’s like Chris Rock one said: “There are two kinds of malls: The ones white people go to and the ones white people used to go to.” Landmark has certainly become the latter of the two. Rest in Peace.

  18. johnny hit it spot on. i only go that mall now for chick-fil-a, and i suspect others are just like me, it usually has a good line any time of day, while the rest of the food court is pretty empty. i also go to sears for tools. and yes, barnie’s coffee is now gone, replaced by an independent coffee that looks identical (i always wondered why barnie’s didnt become the next starbucks, guess they never left mall presence). american cafe is still there, always empty though. the mall is outdated, and though it is nicely located, i find the parking to be confusing and not convenient (very inconvienent to go to sears hardware for example), and yes, the parking garage is sublet to the nearby chrysler dealer. i do find there are often sales as they are desperate for business. the only name stores left are bath and bodyworks and ann taylor, the bookstore is that tiny chain.

  19. I live about 10 minutes away from this mall and it is just as dead as everyone else has reported. A lot of it is boarded up and the stores that are there are unfamiliar to the general public. In my estimation, the mall is sinking primarily because of its location. What used to be a rather affluent area is no longer. There are many rental properties located nearby that house people living at a less than middle class tax bracket. There are nicer condos not too far away but the inhabitants of these condos don’t seem to go near Landmark. If the visitors of the mall don’t have money to spend, you can’t win.

  20. I grew up in this mall and it’s devastating to see it, and Springfield Mall, symbols of my not-so-far-away youth in such a decline. I haven’t lived in NoVa in seven years but dang, what a change a few years can bring.

  21. Poor Landmark Mall has been struggling for years now. I recall when it became enclosed in 1990 and how well it was doing its first half dozen or so years, but things were already really slowing in the late 90’s. I do think the points about the developments in areas close by helped to slowly take away customers from the mall. Kingstowne really started being developed in the mid to late 90’s and just keeps on growing, which has hurt both Landmark and Springfield Malls. Ballston also started growing more vibrant in the 90’s. Although not malls, the shopping and restaurant villages around Bailey’s Crossroads and Shirlington also developed there own cultures and consumer bases. Obviously the Pentagon City/Crystal City/Potomac Yard growth couldn’t have helped either. Just so many other options in Alexandria, Arlington and South Fairfax County.

    I have not heard anything about the plans that came up around 04 for a Village/Towne Center for this spot in a couple of years, so I don’t know what the long term plans are for the place anymore. Landmark is still a nice enough mall in terms of looks, in a low-crime area, and it’s just off the interstate. The place is just badly in need of an identity. I made a point of stopping in here a couple of times the last week after not going for quite some time. The anchors (Sears, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s) are doing alright. Macy’s in particular is still doing pretty good business, but none of it flows into the mall. There are 7 open locations in the food court, with probably an equal number of vacant spots. Aside from the anchors there are still about 12-15 major chains still hanging on here, but virtually everything else appears to be stores taking advantage of what is probably low rent these days. A lot of filler. One minor piece of good news is work was being done on a new restaurant that is going to be going up in the vacant Ruby Tuesday spot fairly soon. If the place remains a mall they badly need a couple of major chains that can be draws to the 18-40 crowd plants themselves here, i.e. Borders/Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, etc. and/or a movie theater. The place just shouldn’t be in the condition it’s fallen into. Too much going for it.

  22. Ahhhhh, the mall of my childhood and the first mall that i was to encounter the comely charms of the women’s fitting rooms (around ’74-’75 ) waiting for mom to finish her trying-ons. the old landmark open-air mall had charm, but then it was enclosed (’90) and became quite ordinary and dull. landmark’s location is excellent and it should’ve flourished but d.c./no. va is a fickle place. i can’t recall the name of the cafeteria/restaurant back in the ’70s but it had decent hot fare and was classier than today’s food courts. sears and woodies had kiosks that sold popcorn and balloons. i’m wondering if there was a memcos in the mall? oh, to be 3′ tall and meandering (innocently) among the women’s changing rooms at woodies. good times…havn’t seen the old girl in a decade since leaving the area. down with tyson’s corner and the snobs who shop there.

  23. JC Penney acquired most of their DC stores when Woodies closed. Tysons, Landmark, Montgomery, Wheaton and maybe Fair Oaks were Woodies. They never did that well here. They closed Tysons, Motgomery, Landmark and Ballston all at the same time.

    The Bailey’s Crossroads Lord & Taylor was replaced by the one at Tysons. There are some employees in the Men’s Suits department that remember the move.

  24. Early memories of Landmark mall before it was enclosed:

    1.Irving’s Sporting Goods- Before Dick’s and Sports Authority, you went here to buy a jock for Little League.
    2. Hot Shoppes Cafeteria- Could they have made it any darker or used more wood panelling?
    3. The Underground- a small sub-mall where each retailer was separated by the staircase. Stores included Harmony Hut and some early Frederick’s type store that sold feather boas and marital aids. Too young at the time to comment on what was inside.

  25. All the malls not off Metro stations in the DC region, outside of Tysons Corner and Tysons ii, are essentially dying. Tysons is set to get Metro in about five years, which should only increase its appeal, while malls such as Pentagon City and even the 1980s ghetto-fabulous Price Georges Plaza are thriving, both currently connected to the Metro. In fact, PGP has spawned another set of stores across the street, creating a shopping area on both sides of the highway, connected to transit. Until DC opens its own Target in 2008, PGP should do fine with all of us Target lovers, at least.

    With real estate tanking nationwide, and spreading to the retail sector, this should be an awesome year for the dead mall, eh?

  26. “All the malls not off Metro stations in the DC region, outside of Tysons Corner and Tysons ii, are essentially dying.”

    Doesn’t seem that way to me. True that Landmark and Springfield (near a metro) are dying, while Tyson’s and Fair Oaks – away from metro – are doing fine.

    I believe Johnny’s comments above nailed it with business moving to other malls for a variety of reasons, and in particular the area surrounding Landmark (and this is also true of Springfield, but more so) moved downscale economically. Section 8 Housing in Springfield’s case with large numbers of low-income folks now living there (and attendant crime) and large numbers of immigrants, while the Landmark area has become a favorite area to live for low-income immigrants (both legal and illegal).

  27. I’ll tell you a major problem with this mall and Springfield – CUSTOMER SERVICE? Where has all the customer service gone? It’s pitiful these days! Serving others well ups sales, it’s that simple.

  28. Its size, location and design could lend itself to being turned into a College, Graduate Cchool or Tech. Really, has anyone thought about that? Who currently owns it? How can I contact them?

  29. As a nearby resident, please please please tear down this antique eyesore and put up landmark village already. This dump must go!!

  30. I was at landmark on a sunday afternoon last year and I was shocked to see how dead it was. I remember the days when it was an outdoor mall, my aunt used to work at the Sears there and we would visit her whenever we were in the area. I remember having dinner at the Hot Shoppes and noticing a lot of old people there. I remember the people’s drug (now CVS) right next to the bus stop where I would wait to catch the bus to go to, ahem, Springfield mall, now another dying mall.

  31. I live within a few blocks of Landmark Mall. I shop there regularly – why, because no one else shops there. When I go to Macy’s and Lord & Taylor’s they have plenty of stock from which I may choose. In fact, I often am able to get things there on clearance that were sold out at other malls much quicker.

    I think Johnny hit the nail on the head with his comments regarding the decline. One comment to a previous post – the JCPenney store at Fair Oaks was always a JCP / never a Woodies.

  32. Landmark Mall was a Great experience for me, and sadly, it’s a shell of its former self today. I was a frequent/regular customer to the mall (still visit occasionally), I bought my first Microwave oven there at Sears, also, my favorite stores at the time were Family Christian Store, Waldensoftware (2nd level)/ EB Games (3rd level), CVS, and especially Lionel Locomotives store (they actually had a model train track with operational trains on display, suspended from the ceiling, inside and outside their store), another special feature was the kiosks where one used their mall card to get coupons and discounts at stores there (I still have my card, and will keep it as a souvenir). To those who commented that Landmark Mall was originally a town-center type, thanks for the history lesson, it appears that they are restoring it to it’s former glory, however, I’ll miss it dearly, the price of progress is truly high.

  33. Now that Springfield Mall is slated to be demolished, maybe some of the tenants at Springfield will move to Landmark.

  34. Whatever happened to the 2004 Landmark Renovation? I live within walking distance of Landmark mall and it is quite a disappointment. It reminds me more of an indoor strip mall with ethnic and/or dollar stores instead of franchises. I think Lord & Taylor is closing soon. I hope that it is revitalized. Also I heard that Springfield Mall was being revitalized, not demolished. I hope the same happens at Landmark.

  35. Landmark mall was killed by a cultural shift in the area. Too many people from one part of the world moved into the Glebe Road region and started shopping the mall, screaming at the retailers and attempting to haggle prices. Their kids were very angry and when we employed them they gave five-finger discounts to their families and claimed it was appropriate because our fixed price system was deceitful and wrong when confronted. A lot of stores bailed because the shrink was so high and the profits were in the toilet, and quite frankly the Americanized customers were kind of afraid of the high volume of culturally religious garb appearing on so many customers in the mall. It doesn’t feel like home at that point. This kind of thing doesn’t work in a generic American retail atmosphere.


  37. Hello everyone…

    I lived across the street at “The Alexandria Apartments” five years ago, and really hated it in the city…have things really gotten worse since I left?

    By all accounts it has, but I’m just looking for more information; any on the apartment complex itself would be appreciated.

  38. As Owner Struggles, Landmark Mall Languishes
    Recession, Delay Of Long-Planned Makeover Take Toll

    By Ylan Q. Mui
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, July 3, 2009

    This is what a dying mall looks like: Long stretches of vacant storefronts and blank walls. A department store with empty shelves preparing to shut down for good. A little boy running around the children’s play area alone.

    Landmark Mall in Alexandria is part of a growing list of ailing shopping centers across the country that have borne the brunt of the recession. Owner General Growth Properties unveiled ambitious plans five years ago to remake the 52-acre center into a suburban oasis of office buildings, homes and shops. But the process was dogged by delays, and now the financial crisis has delivered a triple whammy.

    General Growth filed for bankruptcy protection this spring. The credit crunch has dried up the market for the $2 billion in capital required for the makeover. And consumers just aren’t shopping, with the discretionary purchases that are the lifeblood of malls taking the biggest hit. Monthly sales at apparel stores have fallen an average of 6 percent compared with last year, while sales at department stores — which typically anchor a mall — have plummeted an average of 10 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group.

    General Growth said it remains committed to overhauling Landmark Mall, and city officials are forging on with permits. But the timeline remains nebulous, and the aging shopping center waits in limbo.

    “We are seeing some of these properties just sitting there where nothing is going to happen until there’s capital back in the marketplace,” said Michael P. Kercheval, chief executive of the ICSC.

    The vision for Landmark involves tearing down the mall and replacing it with a 5 million-square-foot, mixed-use “lifestyle center” that mimics the feel of a town square, with shopping and restaurants next to offices and homes. There were 89 such projects under construction during the first quarter of the year, according to research firm CoStar Group, but only 18 traditional enclosed malls. Still, traditional malls dominate the landscape with more than 800 properties compared with about 300 lifestyle centers.

    As the recession picked up steam, mall-based retailers got slammed. Shoppers slashed discretionary spending on clothing and entertainment at the specialty stores that line the walkways. The department stores that anchor malls suffered as consumers traded down to discounters. Retailers began shuttering stores — or going out of business altogether.

    Crabtree & Evelyn, which has 125 stores, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday. Whitehall Jewelers, Bombay Company and Sharper Image are just a handful of chains to liquidate their stores over the past two years, a total of 843 locations. Mall staples such as Ann Taylor, Talbots and Pacific Sunwear have collectively shuttered hundreds of stores. Other retailers are paring down expansion plans.

    Strong malls such as Tysons Corner Center and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, where there are waiting lists for tenants to get in, were able to absorb the losses. But for mid-tier players such as Landmark, a store closing often ends in a dark, empty space.

    Nationally, vacancy rates have risen from about 4 percent in 2006 to an average of 7.1 percent for regional malls, according to CoStar. Sales per square foot for non-anchor stores fell 11 percent in March, the most recent month for which statistics are available, according to the ICSC. General Growth does not disclose vacancy rates for specific properties. The City of Alexandria said vacancies at Landmark were “low” and estimated sales per square foot at $125 to $150, compared with the national average of $376, not including anchor tenants. Sales tax revenue from Landmark has plummeted to $1 million annually, down about 25 percent since it was first slated for redevelopment five years ago, the city said.

    Landmark is already full of small-time tenants. The blinking sign at Mr. Mini Mart wishes shoppers a happy Ramadan. Alliance Dance Institute is home to the Alexandria Ballet and teaches adult ballroom classes. There is a dollar store, a wig store and a tobacco shop. Anchor Lord & Taylor is preparing to go dark.

    General Growth said that when redevelopment plans were unveiled five years ago, Landmark prepared by no longer offering the long-term leases favored by national tenants. That plan has backfired as the makeover got put on hold. Sears, Macy’s, Ann Taylor Loft and Victoria’s Secret are among only a handful of national chains that remain.

    Ahkeibo Blake has worked as a barber at Touch Up Hair Gallery at the mall for over a year. He said his weekly pay has dropped from $1,700 when he started to about $600. He has noticed that the mall is less crowded, and his clients are stretching the time between their appointments — and scaling back on services once they do come in.

    But Blake said he doesn’t blame them for not coming to the mall. He lives across the street, but he rarely shops at Landmark. Instead, he drives to Maryland for a shopping center with a Dave and Busters. During lunch, he leaves the mall and its meager food court for takeout elsewhere.

    “It’s a very good place, but they have the wrong businesses in here,” he said.

    Alexandria officials have not given up hope of turning Landmark into a shopping destination. It has a prime location just off Interstate 395, where more than 294,000 cars pass the mall every day, according to General Growth. The company reports that household income within the trade area is $104,259, compared with the national average of $50,233. Nearly 300,000 people work within a five-mile radius of the mall, and the upcoming military base realignment and closure program is expected to bring 6,400 new jobs to the area, according to the city.

    The problems, however, are capital and competition. Landmark hasn’t been renovated since 1990. Meanwhile, upscale developments in Clarendon, Pentagon City, behemoth Tysons Corner and General Growth’s own upscale Tysons Galleria have siphoned away potential customers. Speculation abounded that General Growth might sell Landmark as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, but a company spokesman said that was unlikely.

    “Landmark Mall occupies a valuable piece of property in a wonderful location. The potential for that property is tremendous,” spokesman Jim Graham said. “Our restructuring and current market conditions both make it difficult to commit to a specific timetable, but we are hopeful that we can work with our retail partners and the City of Alexandria to make the reinvention of Landmark Mall a reality.”

    Last month, the City Council approved another phase in the plans to redevelop Landmark and the surrounding neighborhood. But Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks is also realistic. A plan summary presented to the council last month noted that the current economic environment could not support such massive redevelopment. Jinks said instead that the city is focused on clearing regulatory hurdles in hopes that it will be ready for a rebound in the capital markets — and a turnaround at General Growth.

    “We’re hoping that it is a high priority,” Jinks said of General Growth’s commitment to Landmark. “Whether it is or not will depend on what kind of company emerges from the restructuring.”

    But the city seems to be hedging its bets. Jinks said his team has been in preliminary talks with other developers and investors, but declined to specify which ones. The city is determined to bring the site back to life, he said, with or without General Growth.

  39. I grew up in the area – 1970s. And I have lived in the area, after college, since 1985.
    In the 1970s we frequented Landmark and Springfield Malls.
    Contrary to one poster above, Springfield Mall is not a small mall. When we moved to the area in the mid 70s it was listed as the second largest mall on the East Coast. It has only gotten larger though other malls also grew.
    Landmark was an outdoors mall with Sears on one end and and Hecht Co. at the other. Yes, Irving’s Sporting Goods was there. It wasn’t as good as Herman’s in Springfield Mall but often worth a stop for a high school male.
    The cafeteria back then was a Wyatt’s or maybe a Furr’s. Maybe it became a Hot Shoppes later. There was a Raleigh’s (upper-mid level clothing) about midway between the anchors. There was a People’s Drug store near the Sears.
    The Underground was added later, very late 1970s perhaps. It was a strange place with a small record store (was it a Harmony Hut?) and the freaky lingerie place.
    Since we shopped at Sears for school clothes we always seemed to be at Landmark when it was cold. Being uncovered made it less desirable.
    It had a great location (though the intersection and exit off of 395 was a bit dodgy).
    Back then its only real competition were Springfield Mall and Seven Corners. The Sears at Clarendon was closing or had closed. Clarendon became a wasteland after that.
    Seven Corners, not a real mall, bit a series of freestanding stores and strip malls, notably Lord & Taylor (in a fantastic building), was already beginning to crumble.
    There was also the small Skyline Mall hidden away at he Skyline complex near Bailey’s Crossroads.
    Landmark kind of had everything in Northern Virginia/inside the Beltway and along the 395 corridor to itself.
    I worked in Springfield Mall in high school and of course as soon as any of my buddies could drive we hung out there. Korvettes had the best record collection. But there was a Harmony Hut too (later Sam Goody). Penney’s was at one end and Ward’s at another. So we shopped a lot there. There was a Garfinkles in it too (my sister worked there). There was a Time Out arcade, movies, Roy Roger’s (I still dream about those Double R Bar burgers), Farrell’s ice cream/restaurant, a Hot Shoppes restaurant, Orange Julius and so much more. Oh, yeah, Spencer’s Gifts consumed a lot of our hard-earned dollars.
    As I was going off to college Korvette’s had been closed and the mall opened a whole new wing.
    I haven’t been to Springfield Mall in decades though I live not that far from it. I understand that it has not aged well and crime, nearly nonexistent when I was there, has multiplied.
    Posters are right that these malls have been hit by expanding options in the region. Springfield Mall has no doubt been hollowed out by Kingstowne and the expansion of retail on the locale (e.g. Springfield proper) and the massive growth to the south, notably Potomac Mills.
    Landmark got hammered from every direction. It’s a great location with a large and decent-income local population in the condos along Duke St./Little River Turnpike/236 and Van Dorn St.. I think one of the posters above was referring to this stretch of road which has a high immigrant population rather than “Glebe Road.”
    But the higher income folks in Shirlington and South Arlington along with northern Alexandriaites along Jeff Davis Hwy. who used to go there now have many more options, most importantly Potomac Yards and Pentagon City.
    I bought my condo in 1987 as they were building Pentagon City. It has proven to be a wise investment for the Simon Co. (and for me too!) Being on the Metro also makes it a major stop for District residents; which explains the large number of blacks at a mall in lily-white Arlington. And no one holds it against them. It’s a very safe mall.
    I loved the mall when it opened – Brentanos, Scribners, Eddie Bauer, and a movieplex. Alas, they are all gone, replaced by more women’s fashion stores and jewelers… I still shop there though I shop more at the adjacent later-built Pentagon Row (on the side closest to me) and Pentagon Center (on the other side) with its Best Buy, Borders and Marshalls. I understand that Pentagon Center, redeveloped out of an old AT&T warehouse, is slated to be redeveloped again. The whole area is packed with “luxury” condos and a massive “ultra luxury” development is being build just across the street.
    Crystal City, mentioned by someone, hasn’t helped Landmark, by undergoing a renaissance itself. Not so much shopping but swanky restaurants (Mortons, Ruth’s Chris, McCormick & Schmick, Jaleo, P.F. Chang’s…).
    Also developing in the area over the last decade, the rebirths of Clarendon (condos and hip shops and restaurants) and Bailey’s Crossroads (Best Buy, Borders, Marshalls, Ross, Old Navy…). The Skyline Mall was redeveloped into a single Target store.
    Even down and out Seven Corners rebuilt to a great extent (Ross, Barnes & Noble, Guitar Center, Home Depot [the one the Beltway sniper shot the FBI lady at]).
    Someone above mentioned a Memco. There never was a Memco at Landmark but you were close. It was down 236 a few miles at the intersection of Braddock Rd. It went through a number of identities including life as a Bradlee’s. It’s now a Home Depot.
    The Lord & Taylor at Seven Corners became a Caldor and is now a Sears.
    I’m at Landmark about once a year – for the Sears usually. It is a weird place with a strange mix of tenants and absurd traffic patterns. Very unenticing.
    By the way. I pass by every day to and from work and it is the closest mall to my work (about 2.5 miles away from my office). Yet none of my coworkers ever go there…
    I’m really not sure what could help. There are a lot of people who live in the area but since they have to get into their to get to the mall they go elsewhere. There’s a BJ’s catty-corner.
    I’m thinking they need to think outside the box and tempt someone like a BJ’s into the mall. I know that the Price Club at Pentagon Center drives a lot of traffic. Maybe a massive Best Buy (though there are three nearby)?
    What they really need to do is get the mall onto the Metro line. In some far future they should press the Silver Line to head down Rt. 7 into Falls Church, pass through Bailey’s Crossroads, Skyline, drop over to Mark Center and then to Landmark. They could then connect with the Yellow Line terminus at Van Dorn or Springfield.
    Of course Landmark might not be around by then.
    Well, those are my thoughts.

  40. @Brett, Amendment. It’s a Costco at Pentagon Center, not a Price Club. And it was an Orange Bowl at the Springfield Mall of my youth, not an Orange Julius…

  41. @Brett, Price Club is Costco’s old name, and There was a Orange Julius in Springfield Mall in the late 70’s until a few years ago, according to a neighbor, but orange Bowl was the Pizza place.

    Landmark was doing really well until woodies closed, After that when JC Pennies came in it started to go down hill, t

  42. @Brett, Price Club is Costco’s old name, and There was a Orange Julius in Springfield Mall in the late 70’s until a few years ago, according to a neighbor, but orange Bowl was the Pizza place.

    Landmark was doing really well until woodies closed, After that when JC Pennies came in it started to go down hill, the issue was that that Pennies nave had verry much and what they did have was almost just weard odds and ends, and for some resion I could never find anything bigger than a size small there. The outer issue was they never had any sales people in the store, it was like a ghost town. It was at that time that the idea to move the food court down to the first floor came, and every thing that was down next to Sears on the first floor was going to get moved, and the third floor was going to be some type of teen entertainment center, but all that happened was the stores got moved. After this Dave and Busters was going to go in on third floor but becasue they never made the food court move that never happened. And that When the mall started going down hill. It could have been saved if L&T had put in a full department store instead of just a clothing boutique but it did not happen, from there people just stopped going to the mall, there was nothing there to go to it just seemed to happen overnight, my mom and I went Back to school shopping and come christmas, half of the mall had left and by Easter it was just junk shops and empty stores. and a mall with old middle eastern type men who undressed every woman that walked past them with there eyes.
    The city has had plans to turn it in to a town center for years, and while it got its add on to the west end city plan for 2014, given the state of the economy It would better serve the community in some outer purpose…. leave Sears there build a small strip mall and perhaps entice the Safeway in the strip mall right next door to move to a New larger location, Throw in a a small Library, I know central is close but it does draw shoppers to a mall, look at Shirlington library in Arlington, add a few restraints. And a LARGE Recreation center/ entertainment complex, A indoor skate park/ Ice Rink. Would draw people from all over Alexandria and the surrounding areas given it would be the only indoor skate park in the DC area, and hte ice rink would be a boon for the city, and if it were hocky game sized, I would be better then Ketler ice arena at Balston that’s half a rink.

  43. I grew-up here back in the ’60s and ’70s. Landmark (Sears) is where I got all my school cloths. At the time it was an outdoor mall. I read that someone bought it and is planning on turning it back into an outdoor mall. It appears that the indoor malls are dying. These are being replaced by the old-fashioned outdoor malls (Reston, Fairfax, Bethesda, old-town-anywhere). Society goes through various shopping cycles: downtown, strip-malls, enclosed malls, downtown, fake downtown, etc.. I’m glad that I’m not in this business.

  44. I live just down the street from Landmark Mall, so I am justified in wishing for a revival of this historical Lanmark area. The population of the Landmark, Alexandria City area will support the redevelopment and growth, however you really need good management, that seriously know about managing a Mall with historical value, for sustanability and growth. The Management is Bad, really I don’t feel they know what to do, except collect rents, I have live nine years in this area, and know for a fact is among the wealthy area of Northern VA. That wealth is bypassing the Landmark and ending up in the Tyson Corner arena, Why, ??, Good anchor businesses are leaving why?? ouside of a few minor incedents, the crime is low. I would like to see more upscale planning and marketing.

  45. It’s really, really sad; more stores are closed than open there. The stores that are open aren’t worth shopping at.

  46. I when to land mark mall and I got reaped off I got a fit in the store called GQ casoul for 150$ and I found the same fit IN A.j. wrights for 35$ buck I wos so mad IM never going back to that f#cking mall and the chi fila made me earl that sh@t wos nasty plus that mall is so daed the poeple that work there are so money hungry dont go ther youre going to feel so good that you did not step A foot in that mall plus it will save you money! like that store I step in the men that was there wos such a fake sales men he’ll never get my bezz and he wos so rood if you go you’ll see for youre self and you will remember these I told you so ! JAYJAY!

  47. I REALLY enjoy reading about malls of the USA on your blog. I feel like I am actually walking thru them!

    I wish Google would go into malls with photos to make a virtual walking tour.

  48. I bet that mall’s landlord is charging sky-high rent in which most stores cannot dream of affording or they’d have to sack the employees just to keep the lights on.

    As an example:

    my dad works at a pharmacy that used to be in Lloyd Center Mall (Oregon) since the 70s but recently they moved several blocks away where the rent is MUCH cheaper and the pharmacy can choose it’s own hours in order to not work the employees to death which many are ‘ageing’.

    The customer flow in either location has been pretty steady and it’s amazing how a lot of the customers are the old ones who were used to the mall still came despite the major changes.

  49. Was at Landmark Mall for the first time yesterday. The mall definitely has a lot of stores, but they are mostly independent, and not of the chain variety. Lots of people there, too. This place is definitely holding its own, just not with nationally-known retailers.

  50. @kent rockwell, I think it was a “Hot Shoppes Cafeteria”. That was the shopping center (wasn’t a mall back then) that I would go to in my childhood (5th through 8th grades–although not alone). I miss the character of the old place as most malls seem to me to be inter-changeable. And even in early 2012 it felt on the shabby side.

  51. LANDMARK MALL is still open despite all appearances. The reason this mall is almost dead is the retard in charge of it. Ms. Caroline Martin, she has single handedly killed any chance this mall had of coming back to life.. this mall is primarily mom and pop foreign shops of crap that no one wants hence the lack of traffic.. her mgt of this mall has driven 95 % of the stores that people would actually shop at. When you actually try to meet with her, she hides and tells the women in the office to say she’s out.. even though you see her coming and going…. this lady is more concerned about getting a bonus for keeping the spots filled up even though its crippled the mall behind repair…. this once great mall is now plauged with crime, cloned phones, drugs… local Police actually tried to help out and requested to do live roll.calls at the mall to better the view of the mall in the community’s eyes… again Ms. Martin stopped the progress… I guess its better you receive a bonus than clean up the image of the mall ….

  52. I moved from the DC area about five months ago to the Tampa Bay area – I lived less than five miles from the mall.

    The four years I was in the DC area the mall went from bad to almost dead and it seems it may be there. Too bad it may be dying because it has a ton of promise but oh well. Fair Oaks was a much, much better mall.

  53. I grew up near the mall and have fond memories of the cafeteria: It had chandeliers and felt classier than most mall food courts. I loved running up and down the courtyard area which had these angled seats/walls. And wasn’t there a strange underground shopping mall too?

    I have been trying to find pictures of the original mall from the 1960’s if anyone would be willing to share.

    When it was redone in the 1990’s it was a pretty notable event and even then it was a relief to not suffer through traffic to Springfield or Tyson’s. But then Pentagon Mall opened and that is where most of the shoppers seemed to go to (at least among my Alexandria friends). We would still go to Landmark for specific shopping needs (read: mom shopped at Sears for appliances) but not to “go shopping.” Now with all the new malls in the larger area – there just seems to be a glut.

  54. As of now, Landmark Mall is pretty well dead. It is never actually busy and it’s overrun by stores no one cares about and kiosks even fewer care about. Alexandria Honda appears to be renting the Lord & Taylor parking spaces in the back of the mall to store new cars. There’s a furniture place on the bottom floor that’s been “going out of business” for over two years. It appears that no one is buying anything so they can’t actually close. The American Cafe has closed and there are entire wings of the mall that have nothing in them. I will always have a soft spot for Landmark but there’s no way it can continue to operate for too much longer this way.

  55. Various hurdles — GGP’s bankruptcy and reorganization, the 2008 financial crisis, Sears & Macy’s balking in 2009 — have been cleared, and now Landmark Mall has Alexandria city council permission for demolition in spring 2014.

    As for the reasons behind its demise, @rich has the right idea (and the xenophobia, as usual, is uncalled for): Tysons is so dominant in this region that NoVa’s many B-grade malls never really stood a chance. Pentagon City, just three exits down I-395, can tap into a much broader market since it’s on Metro + US 1, and has a large daytime captive market between the Pentagon and Crystal City.

  56. I have a bit of an update. I spoke with a cashier at Sears about three weeks ago and she intimated that the long-talked-about closure of the mall is about a month away.

    The furniture place I talked about above won’t be able to close. No one is buying anything from it (not great stuff – I wouldn’t either.) They had a meeting at the old “New York & Company” storefront on the second level where they talked about what they were going to do. I didn’t know about it until after it happened so I missed out.

    There are a bunch of “mom and pops” there. Sears, Macy’s, Foot Locker, The Finish Line, and Chick-Fil-A are the only chain merchants there. The mall is officially, as stated above, without a sit-down restaurant, though it really only had two to begin with. The AT&T store right next to the American Cafe recently closed too.

    I hate to see her go as she has much history for me but, of course, it’s utterly inevitable at this point given the fact that there’s no way to turn things around.

  57. @jayjay, The guy that owns GQ Casual owns two other storefronts at that mall and he is absolutely to be avoided at all costs. I bought a dress shirt from the suit place on the second level because of the unusual color. It is paper thin and I really have to be careful with it. I’ve already had it repaired at the dry cleaner once. I won’t be doing that again.

  58. The beginning of the partial mall demolition is tentatively scheduled for late 2014. The Macy’s and Sears will both remain, and I would guess will stay open during construction, similar to what was done at nearby Springfield Mall. The plan is an walkable, open-air mall (which is funny, because that’s what Landmark was when it first opened in the 60’s, until it was enclosed in the late 80’s). The plan includes residential over the lower floor retail, and a “high-end dining theatre.” The long-term plan has seven phases, so it’ll be a long time before all the work there is done.

  59. Update: Over the course of the last month or so, they appeared to be filming something in the commons area of the mall. The crew set up this big black structure with cameras and lights inside of it and moved the kids area to the front of the old Lord & Taylor storefront. The crew and offices took up the old GQ Casual and the storefront to the left of Lord & Taylor (don’t remember what that was.)

    Anyway, it’s over now and everything’s gone. The kids area has remained where they moved it.

    In terms of store’s gone, the eyebrow place is gone as is “As Seen on TV.” How either one stayed open as long as they did, I haven’t a clue. Lastly, “The Worx by Maia” at the end of the dead wing has also just closed.

  60. Kay Jewelers closed right after Xmas so that leaves a big gaping hole right by the main entrance. The kids area has been moved back to where it was too. Et Amore, the senior center, and Claire’s are all gone too. They all closed at the same time. Nothing new on demo plans yet.

  61. I remember this mall when it was open-air in the 1960s and 70s. It was lovely back then. The cafeteria was an S&W, with the big chandelier. The People’s (CVS) had a luncheon counter. Sears had the “Hickory Room” for eating. I believe that the Hecht Company also had a restaurant. The bookstore was a Walden’s. Yes, that strange “Underground” section opened in the late 70s (or perhaps early 80s), and I’ve often wondered what they were trying to do. I recall that it had a coffee shop but also Persian carpets–it was awful! Once Landmark became enclosed, it lost its individuality. Actually, the old open-air centers were vastly superior, like the Prince George’s Plaza and Wheaton Plaza before they became covered. Each one had a unique character. Enclosed malls all generally look and feel alike, and because they are unaffected by weather and in a way shut off from reality, crowds of people just walk aimlessly for hours and hours–it is depressing.

Leave a Reply