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Demolition of Springfield Mall ushers in new era

Monday - 12/3/2012, 12:42pm  ET

mall1.jpg
Tear-down of the mall has already begun as part of the first phase of the project. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

SPRINGFIELD, Va - There are big changes coming to the landscape in Springfield as the old mall comes down and work begins on a new town center.

In the 1980's, the Springfield Mall was the place to be. This time of year it would be bustling with holiday shoppers and the parking lot would be full.

The concourse of the mall is now nothing but a shell, and the parking lot is almost empty, a week after the wrecking ball moved in.

It's part of a 10-year renovation project that will bring in more than 2,700 apartments, 450 hotel rooms, much more shopping and a bike and pedestrian connection to the nearby Franconia-Springfield metro station.

The anchor stores on the 78 acre site: Macy's, Target and JC Penny remain open and will be part of the new development.

Parts of of the new Springfield Town Center could open in 2014 when the $200 million first phase is complete.

For people who live or work in the area this is a major change. Bada Saar runs the local Silver Diner franchise right across the parking lot from the mall.

"It's going to be good for the community because it's going to help the local economy", Saar says.

He estimates his business could bring in an extra $5,000 a week once the development is complete. Saar says he'll be able to hire more local people once business picks up.

Tim Stallings, who has lived in the area since 1985, says he has watched the mall deteriorate over the years and is thrilled they have torn most of it down to rebuild.

"From what I have seen of the plans, I think it's going to be kind of neat."

Stallings says he is not worried about any traffic the renovated mall might bring. The plans outlined by the mall's new owners, Vornado Realty Trust, also include a health club, a grocery store and basketball and tennis courts proposed to sit on top of a parking garage.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)