Regency mall in western Henrico County is losing one of its larger tenants.
The two-level Forever 21 store, which opened in 2009, is one of the stores that the chain is closing as part of its bankruptcy case.
The fast-fashion retailer, which filed for bankruptcy protection in late September, listed 111 stores to be closed, according to court documents filed this week.
That included the one at Regency as well as three others in Virginia — Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax; MacArthur Center in Norfolk; and Manassas Mall in Manassas.
The chain has a total of 12 stores in Virginia. It does not have any others in the Richmond area.
The 45,700-square-foot Forever 21 store at Regency is considered a mini-anchor tenant because it takes up almost an entire section of the mall’s interior space near the former Sears store.
Only the J.C. Penney store, the mall’s sole remaining anchor tenant, is bigger.
“We are evaluating what our options are [for the Forever 21 space]. We have a lot of ideas,” said Mark H. Slusher, senior vice president of Thalhimer Realty Partners, the investment and development subsidiary of the Henrico-based commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. Thalhimer Realty Partners and Richmond-based The Rebkee Co. own the mall.
The Forever 21 closing was not unexpected, he said. “We get sales reports and while they were not bad, they were not great considering the size of the store it was. It was one [of the chain’s] larger footprints.”
The closing gives the mall’s owners opportunities as Regency undergoes a transformation from being simply a mall into a mixed-use development with retail, restaurants, apartments, offices and entertainment. The mall opened in 1975.
Regency’s owners bought the enclosed part of the mall, the two former Macy’s buildings and related parking lots for $13.1 million in February 2015. In March 2018, the owners bought most of the closed Sears property — the 151,571-square-foot Sears building and surrounding parking lots on 8.7 acres — for $3 million and bought the 3.2-acre auto center space this year.
The purchases are part of mall redevelopment and transformation plans, which include a NOVA of Virginia Aquatics center to be located in the former Macy’s South building and a Surge Trampoline Park to take over the former Macy’s North Building. The park is slated to open in January.
Plans also call for a four- to five-story building to be constructed where the Sears store is now for a 320-unit apartment complex, Slusher said.
Demolition of the Sears store should take place by the end of the year, he said. Meanwhile, the owners are looking at financing options and are narrowing down a contractor for the apartment project.
Construction on the apartment complex should begin by this spring, he said. The first apartments should be ready for occupancy in early 2021 with the entire building completed in 2022.
A driveway and outside plaza will separate the apartment building from the mall.
As for Forever 21, the chain said when it filed for bankruptcy that it planned to close up to 178 stores in the U.S. and up to 350 overall but didn’t say where those stores would be.
The court documents this week mentioned only the 111 stores to close. The documents did not say anything about whether the chain plans to close 60-plus more stores.
A company representative did not return a phone call seeking comment.