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Older malls beef up dining, entertainment options to boost traffic

The great American mall transformation continues.

Many mall owners are spending billions to add more upscale restaurants and bars, premium movie theaters with dine-in options, bowling alleys and similar amenities.

The trend has been gaining traction as the companies that operate malls look for ways to keep people coming in at a time when Macy’s, Sears and other big department store chains have shuttered hundreds of stores and consumers increasingly opt to shop online.

At Stony Point Fashion Park in South Richmond, for instance, Griffin Cigar is one of a wave of new tenants that have moved in as some of the mall’s other retailers have moved out.

The open-air mall is in the second phase of a major renovation to make its spaces more inviting and accessible. A new Latitude Seafood Co. restaurant is scheduled to open in the spring.

Locally owned Griffin Cigar, located near P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Brio Tuscan Grille, opened last fall and has a lounge area and sells Christys’ London hats.

“It’s fun to sit here and relax, fellowship and network,” customer Vernon Paige said as he used a cedar spill to light a cigar.

“Usually before a cigar, you want a full stomach,” said Paige, adding that it was a good move to put the cigar shop near two restaurants.

Some malls have turned swaths of space that previously housed department stores over to health clubs and grocery stores. At Virginia Center Commons in northern Henrico County, an American Family Fitness gym occupies a former Dillard’s store space.

Others are undergoing no less than a ground-up transformation to make room for office space, hotels and apartments.

Last year, Military Circle mall in Norfolk landed two new major non-retail tenants that moved into space that was once a J.C. Penney store. Movement Mortgage opened a 750-job operations center in part of the space,

Article source: http://www.richmond.com/ap/national/older-malls-beef-up-dining-entertainment-options-to-boost-traffic/article_f29f4c0f-3c4d-5159-8ed0-4866f5688746.html

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