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?
The 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.
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).