The Springfield Mall was once the happening place in Northern Virginia — so hot it was once visited by Princess Diana. Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay says it was the setting for much of his youth.
"I have a lot of fond memories of the mall," he says. "I spent a lot of time there as a kid, I mean it's where we went to see Santa every year. However, the way the mall has looked for the last 10 or 15 years has resembled nothing like what I remember as a kid."
Over the years, stores moved out of the mall, eventually becoming a shell of its former self. Now part of the building is being demolished to make way for redevelopment.
"This is the biggest thing that's happened in Springfield since the Mixing Bowl got rebuilt," he says. "It's that big a deal. For the region, it's huge because this piece of property in Fairfax County is one of the highest assessed values of any piece of land in the county."
Vornado Realty Trust, which owns the mall, did not respond to calls and emails for comment. But Southeast Fairfax Development executive director David Versel says the redevelopment at Springfield Mall is a huge step forward for the region.
"The mall kind of represents the best hope for large-scale revitalization, as both its reputation and its reality have fallen so far in recent years," says Versel.
The aim is to transform the mall into town center.
"Malls are never going to be as prevalent as they were, but the malls that have been able to reinvent themselves as destinations and places that are interesting and exciting to spend time in instead of just places to acquire things, are the ones that are thriving," Versel says.
The wrecking ball will take down part of the Springfield Mall Monday morning to make way for a new grand entrance.