City officials are working with the owners of the Danville Shopping Center to find new uses for the shopping site.
“We envision the Danville Mall property as a lifestyle destination, where community, retail and residential meet in one place,” said Danville Economic Development Manager Corrie T. Bobe. , at the Danville Register & Bee.
Possible uses for the site include hospitality, residences, outdoor recreation, food and drink, public gathering areas and offices, Bobe said. The mall’s 87,000 square foot footprint and about 17,000 square feet of off-plot development area could be redeveloped, she said.
A spokesman for Hull Property Group, owner of Danville Mall, did not respond to numerous voicemails left this week by the Register & Bee.
City officials have pointed to the mall’s central location as an ideal location for redevelopment.
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“Where it is geographically located, it is perfectly situated to be a lifestyle destination,” said Councilman Lee Vogler. “It’s been a huge commercial site for many years. It’s surrounded by commercial properties. Combining that with residential is a win-win situation.”
City Manager Ken Larking said of the mall property, “It’s centrally located, has great access, it has great views and it’s a beautiful property.”
Malls have been in decline for decades across the country and new uses need to be found for them, Vice Mayor Gary Miller said.
“Malls close every year across the country,” Miller said. “We’re going to have to reinvent what malls do.”
“Reimagine” was a running theme among officials who spoke to the Register & Bee. Hull Property Group and the city’s economic development office are working together “to determine ways to reinvent this site, providing additional enhanced offerings to our residents,” Bobe said.
“Hull Properties is open to exploring partnership opportunities for further residential and commercial redevelopment of this site,” Bobe said.
Redevelopment of the site would not involve closing the mall, but would add to what already exists, she said.
Miller thinks looking at the mall’s redevelopment options is a great idea.
“We don’t want the mall to go bankrupt,” Miller said.
Danville serves as a commercial hub for surrounding communities in southern Virginia and northern North Carolina, reaching about 625,000 residents, Bobe said. That and other factors make the mall property a perfect choice for redevelopment, she said.
“This property is also located near major city assets including the River District, two of Averett University’s campuses and the $650 million Caesars complex under construction,” Bobe said. “Additionally, this site is located in high traffic areas where between 17,000 and 24,000 cars pass through each day.”
Bobe wouldn’t say if potential developers are watching the mall for possible projects.
“At this time, we cannot comment on prospect activity related to this project,” she said.
Any incentives that would be offered for effort on ownership would depend on the size of the project, Bobe said.
“The city will evaluate all potential incentives based on the scope of the final development project,” Bobe said.
A regional housing summit held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research highlighted the need for more housing in the city and surrounding region, Miller said. This gives Danville the opportunity to market the mall for a mixed-use development.
“We have to help our mall and we’re happy to do that,” Miller said.
City officials are also considering redeveloping other parts of the city, Bobe said.
The Danville Economic Development Office recently assessed the condition of the city’s major corridors and prioritized areas for redevelopment efforts, Bobe said.
“We are currently focused on redeveloping the Schoolfield District and West Main Street corridor that extends from the North Carolina line and extends to the River District boundaries,” she said.
A Philadelphia company is working on a master plan for the hallway, which is expected to be completed in October, Bobe said. The city will begin to focus its efforts on this area based on the results of the study, she said.
“We will immediately begin planning to implement the recommendations of this study,” Bobe said.
The economic development office is also partnering with the River District Association to assess redevelopment along the North Main hill, she said.