SPRINGFIELD, Va. (WUSA) - The demolition of Springfield Mall has been a long time coming. The mall far outlived its heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when it was so fancy Prince Charles and Princess Diana paid a visit.
But over the past two decades, you were more like to find gang members than royalty.
"This was a place that definitely went down hill. And it was heartbreaking for people in Springfield, especially me, who had great memories of it," said Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay who grew up in Springfield.
The mall's demise had little to do with the location, which has access to 495, I-95 and the Fairfax County Parkway. Retail has grown and bustled around it. The problem was that owners didn't renovate to keep up with all the other malls in the area.
After mega-developer Vornado bought the mall in 2006, the recession hit and Vornado defaulted on its loan. Now, with refinancing underway, Vornado is moving forward with a $200 million transformation.
"It's really symbolic that we're moving forward with a project of this magnitude given the economy that we have. And I think it's a testament to the strength of the Springfield business community," said McKay.
The anchor stores, Target, Macys and JC Penny will stay, but most of the old structure is coming down. Where the old Garfinkels was, a grand new entrance will go up. Where entrance #1 used to be, expect to have your pick of a bank of new restaurants.
Instead of Springfield Mall, it will be called Springfield Town Center, a mix of upscale retail and commercial development. Completion date is scheduled for the end of 2014. Later phases will include a hotel, residential units and recreational facilities.
"Springfield Mall was cutting edge at one point in time. And when this opens, Springfield Town Center will be cutting edge again and it will bring a lot of the retail that we've lacked for a number of years. More importantly for me, it will bring back the citizen pride," said McKay.