A deal to redevelop Military Circle may not yet be in place, but the city is moving forward with a plan to relocate tenants and demolish the majority of the structure beginning in 2023.
Holding their Wednesday meeting in a vacant storefront inside the mall, members of the Norfolk Economic Development Authority voted to let the city, which owns most of the property, begin the process of notifying tenants about the decision and offering them other locations.
The mall would then close at the end of 2022, and major demolition would begin in the first quarter of 2023.
“We really want to get the word out to the tenants,” Norfolk Economic Development Director Jared Chalk said about the timing of the decision during the meeting.
There are 95 tenants that would need to move, according to the city.
Norfolk development officials presented four options for moving forward with the mall property before a redevelopment deal finalizes. Along with demolition, options included leaving the mall open, relocating some tenants to be closer together and consolidating operations and moving everyone out without demolition.
Each option included costs for the city. For example, if the mall were to remain open, it would need a $5 million roof replacement and $2 million for a new chiller system.
Norfolk City Council members are mulling three redevelopment proposals for Military Circle, and are in early negotiations with a group that includes Virginia Beach native and music star Pharrell Williams that wants to build an arena and other features.
Several city council members took an unannounced May visit to Austin, Texas, to view the Moody Center, a 15,000-seat arena developed by Oak View Group, which is part of Williams’ team vying for the Military Circle redevelopment deal.
Chalk said the demolition would cost at least $3 million and would be rolled into a larger redevelopment deal. He believed the demolition decision was fiscally prudent for taxpayers. Additionally, it allows tenants the most time to sell their inventories and develop move-out plans before 2023.
The demolition would not include property owned by Sentara Healthcare, which operates Optima Health offices inside a former JCPenney location. Chalk said a Ross Dress for Less could also operate for the remainder of its lease, which continues after the end of this year.
Norfolk Economic Development Authority Chair Antonio Sisco said he remembers the heyday of the mall, and noticed the diminished offerings during a site tour before the meeting. Still, he was hopeful the redevelopment would be successful and an asset for the region.
“I think the citizens are going to love it,” Sisco said.
Dorsett Barnwell, who operates Easy Work Boxing and Fitness at the mall, said he hoped there would be room for current tenants in redevelopment plans.
“The majority of the businesses in here are owned by people who were raised up in this area,” he said.
Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345, email@example.com