Representatives of Dulles Town Center are remaining mum on the mall’s future amid news that Lerner Enterprises, the developer behind the Dulles Town Center project, has purchased the former Nordstrom’s department store space.
Nordstrom, one of the mall’s prominent anchors, closed in September 2017 and the large, two-story space it occupied has since sat empty.
Kim Mazhari, director of marketing for Dulles Town Center, acknowledged that the retail industry and public preferences are changing in an era where online shopping and experiential retail are the trends of the moment. But, despite that, she happily reported that the mall’s retailers saw an increase in foot traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend.
While she would not share the mall’s current vacancy figures, she said that all of its in-line spaces are occupied for the holiday season, whether by a temporary or permanent retailer. Some stores at the mall opened as early as 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, with 95 percent of the mall’s stores open from 6 p.m. to midnight that day. A line started forming around the mall’s exterior a little after noon Thanksgiving Day.
“A lot of the retailers we’ve spoken to had double-digit increases for Thanksgiving,” she said.
Because of the emergence of early shopping on Thanksgiving, the parking lot at the mall did not hit capacity until 1 p.m. Friday, which is later than usual, she said. Mazhari chalked it up to more people sleeping in or resting in the morning after perhaps already being out for round one of holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day.
Of its anchor department stores, only the Nordstrom’s space is currently vacant, Mazhari said. Macys, Lord & Taylor, JCPenny’s and Sears all remain. As many of those larger scale retailers have closed up shop in other parts of the country, Dulles Town Center, with the exception of Nordstroms, has so far been spared from the list of closures.
Mazhari would not elaborate on specific future plans for the mall, but said in particular Dulles Town Center is looking at adding to its entertainment options. The 556-acre master plan site also includes office, retail and residential uses in addition to the anchor mall, which opened in 1999.
“People are looking for places to shop, dine and be entertained. We want to increase the amount of entertainment options we have here at Dulles Town Center,” she said. “There’s a shift as leases are naturally expiring to look for other brands—not only brands but companies—that are offering what the public is looking for with more dining and entertainment. We’re always open to more conversations with brands looking to get their foot in the door with brick and mortar.”
Going forward they’re looking at “all options” given the changing retail market.
“We need to be moving forward in a direction that will still retain customers and residents,” Mazhari said. “At this time, we’re just having conversations and discussing what could be a benefit to our property and the surrounding community.”