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REAL ESTATE


Developers Robert Hargett (left) with The Rebkee Co. and Mark Slusher with Thalhimer Realty Partners Inc. see a bright future for the 42-year-old Regency Square mall in Henrico County.


A retail evolution W


Brick-and-mortar retail is struggling, but don’t write the obit yet by Richard Foster


hen developer Rob Hargett was a teenager in Henrico


County in the 1970s and early 1980s, Regency Square mall was the place to shop and socialize. If Hargett’s plans succeed, it will become a major Richmond area attraction again, just not in the same way. America’s retail industry is


in the midst of a major restruc- turing. By the end of the year, industry experts expect a record number of store closings — any- where from 7,000 to 8,000 — as brick-and-mortar stores struggle to compete against a rising tide of online shopping. Yet don’t write the obituary


for r etail yet. Behind the clos- Photo by Rick DeBerry


ings and bankruptcies is a story of evolution as store and mall owners look to innovation and technology to transform retail into experiential gathering places that will draw people and sales. Take the case of 42-year-old


Regency Square. Like many malls around the country, it’s been steadily declining over the past 15 years. Hargett’s company, The Rebkee Co. in Midlothian, and Richmond-based Thalhimer Realty Partners Inc., bought a majority interest in the aging indoor mall for $13.1 million in 2015. Since then, Regency has lost key anchors Macy’s and Sears. Still, Hargett sees a brighter


future. The new owners are investing $30 million in a redevel-


opment plan designed to trans- form the mall into a 21st


-century


community draw. Regal Cinemas plans to open


a new theater complex in one of Regency Square’s former Macy’s spaces by spring 2019. “That’s a great restaurant supporter,” observes Hargett. He expects the theatre to draw thousands of visitors a year, which should put extra eyes on the center’s retail offerings. Hargett hopes to attract


other experiential retailers, such as an indoor go-kart track or a children’s gymnastics center, into spaces vacated by anchors. The addition of off-parcel restau- rants such Starbucks, as well as developing office and possible


www.VirginiaBusiness.com


On the Web


CRE Intel, a free e-newsletter that publishes on Mondays, provides a statewide look at major real estate deals around Virginia. To register, visit


VirginiaBusiness.com VIRGINIA BUSINESS 89


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