VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) Update: 5/13/2019
It's been a year reconstruction, rebranding and renovating old stores into new ones.
That includes the building which, two years ago, was the Vienna KMart, soon to become the location of the area's first Hobby Lobby store.
"The mall is our driver, though; that's our main thing," says Randy Rapp, Mayor of Vienna. "So we're very pleased that this is starting. I think, when the new stores open up, it's going to be very exciting. It's going to be a lot more things for people to come and see, and I'm really looking forward to that."
The demolition of the Sears store, which began Monday, represents the end of an era: not only for Sears but its presence in Grand Central Mall for more than 45 years.
"They were the original anchors back in 1972, Jody Hopkins, mall General Manager, remembers, "but progress goes on. And I think, when you see what is going to replace it, it will blow everybody away."
Hopkins says the mall attracted record numbers of shoppers in 2018. That, thanks to an improved economy, but also due to the additions of new stores.
"H&M was added last year. Alta, Five Below. I think there's a lot of positive additions to the property that are bringing people here. And I think once this is developed, I think it's going to be other stores that people want."
While other former store sites beg for new tenants, the mall hopes to announce new stores at the old Sears location in a few weeks.
"It's going to be an exciting summer for us," says Mayor Rapp, "and I can't wait to see what happens."
Grand Central Mall officials announced Wednesday demolition of the now-closed Sears stores will begin May 13.
The area around the store, which closed in December, will be fenced off beginning this weekend.
Mall officials plan new development at the site. The city of Vienna recently approved a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) plan for future construction.
Sears had a store at the mall dating back to when the mall itself opened in the 1970's.
The owners of the Grand Central Mall announced plans Wednesday to demolish the former Sears store and begin re-developing the mall property into a “hybrid town center.”
Demolition will begin early next month, according to Washington Prime Group Inc., which owns the mall. The Sears store closed in December.
In a news release, the company said plans are in the works to develop an open-air component that will feature “first to market big box retailers.” An announcement about those stores is planned in the near future, officials said.
The mall property has seen some big changes in recent months with the opening of H&M, Hibbett Sports, Ulta Beauty and Five Below. In addition, Big Lots has announced plans to open a store later this year in the former Toys R Us location.
“We’re proud of the four new store openings that occurred last year and the upcoming Sears redevelopment is going to take Grand Central to the next level." said Jody Hopkins, the mall's general manager. "Our commitment to deliver an expansive merchandise mix, family friendly events and popular dining options for our guests will keep our community center the best location for all your needs for years to come."