Grocery chain eyes long-abandoned Northside mall

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR/RichmondBizSense.com) – A major player in the Richmond grocery wars is eyeing a long-abandoned Northside mall property.

Grocery giant Martin’s is looking into building a store at the former Azalea Mall site at Dumbarton Road and Azalea Avenue. It’s a preliminary sign of life for the 49-acre slab of overgrown concrete that housed the mall from its opening in 1963 until its demolition 15 years ago.

And, if all goes according to plan, Martin’s is just the beginning for the site.

Real estate company Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer recently published drawings depicting the potential grocery store as the anchor of a town center with 301,000 square feet of retail and 200 residential units. The development is dubbed Azalea Square.

“Oh, it is long gone. Yeah, it is depressing to look at I think,” says Anne Jennings who lives nearby.

Sharon Peebles says development is long overdue.

“It was a thriving mall. It was a nice mall. Oh, it has seen better days,” says Peebles. “I remember buying my daughters Stride Rite shoes here.”

When Azalea Mall first opened, Peoples Drug and Woolco welcomed countless shoppers, but after Thalhimers closed in 1991 the mall started going downhill. By 1998, Azalea was long gone. The only thing left standing was a lonely store directory sign.

“I remember the garden place more than anything because if I was going to the beach I’d stop and pick up some plants,” says Jennings.

The owner of the site, Dewberry Capital in Atlanta,  is promoting Azalea Square as a 1.3 million square foot mixed-use development with stores and hundreds of apartments and condos built in phases. A spokesman says assuming an anchor tenant can be found it would be at least a year and a half after a lease is signed that the doors would open.

People who work nearby tell us off camera that the empty lot attracts drug users and prostitutes. According Richmond Police stats In the last year officers responded to more than 1,000 calls in the Ginter Park Area ranging from burglary to drugs.

Sharon Peebles says she would welcome the new development with open arms.

“It could be anything here. There is enough space to do anything. And it would create jobs for people,” says Peebles.

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15 comments

    • Vastly Amused

      Matt, I was wondering about that myself! That store seems to be busy (I shop there once a week).
      Perhaps Martin’s is planning on expanding the size of the store and building a new close-by store is cheaper?

  • Carol W

    There’s also a Food Lion basically across the street , plus the Martin’s on Brook Road . I would almost bet money that Westminister Canterbury will put a stop to this . They already use part of the lot for employee parking .

  • Glen Allen

    It sounds like a great use for an over-sized vacant run-down lot. This is how development should work. Note no mention of the City tax payer sinking millions and millions of dollars to attract the development. This shows that developers will come to Richmond, they do not need to be bought, or traded for political contributions. Just Say No to baseball in the Bottom, if the developers want to build there, let them pay for it.

  • jannie

    @Gary, theres always at least one ignorantt poster, I happent to live in the Glen Allen Short Pump area and believe me this can go both ways, simply since i witness often white people doing all kinds of things thats nott so nice so come off your high horse baby. you arent any better.

    • gary

      So I guess you think it is ok that they have trashed that area and now want it rebuilt up just like church hill and over by laburnum at white oak they have ruined every where they live from hull street to Creighton Court and no I don’t like that they come to Mechanicsville and want to trash that and yes I am alot Better a whole lot better than that

      • gary

        The people in that area went keep wasting money in that area and let the idiots keep tearing it up went not put that money to good use and do some renovations or add stuff to Mechanicsville

  • TS911

    Bring jobs to the area Charter-Westbrook hospital used to be there. Azalea mall dying did a lot to turn that area off.

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