Norfolk’s Military Circle Shopping Center, then and now

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Military Circle Mall in Norfolk has seen its ups and downs, new goals and untapped potential.

NORFOLK, VA – It’s been a Hampton Roads staple for over 50 years: Military Circle Mall in Norfolk has seen ups and downs, new goals and untapped potential.

The mall opened in 1970, with JB Hunter, JCPenney, Smith & Welton and Leggett as its mainstays. In 1981, our archival footage shows the mall flourishing, even before the American mall boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1996, the mall underwent a $ 15 million renovation, followed by the construction of a new Sears three years later. But it didn’t take long for the mall’s rise to turn into its inevitable downfall.

In 2012, this new Sears would close, followed by JCPenney two years later. Since then, vacancies have plagued the mall.

But the past two years have been an unexpected redemption for the mall. As one of the region’s premier testing and vaccination sites, Military Circle Mall is a place thousands of people have gone to protect themselves from COVID-19.

And beyond the pandemic, there is still hope for Military Circle. The city is looking to redevelop much of the retail space and is currently seeking public input.

RELATED: Here’s What Military Circle Mall’s Redevelopment Plans Look Like & How You Can Comment On Them

There are three proposals in front of the city from three different development groups – including one from Grammy Award-winning artist and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams – all of them outlining different visions for the new mixed-use neighborhoods that will be installed on the site of the shopping center. mall.

There is no deadline for ending public comment, so any long-term vision for Military Circle’s future will remain long-term for now.

For now, it will remain primarily a destination for people looking for tests and vaccines. At least with that, the mall can proudly wear a new, hopefully temporary, badge as a beacon of hope during a global pandemic.

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