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Landmark Mall To Get A New Lease On Life

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Daniel Daughtry recently moved to Alexandria and is visiting Landmark Mall for the first time.

"It's pretty dead. Pretty lame in here," he says chuckling. "I'm just coming in here to find somewhere to get my watch fixed, if that can happen. But it's pretty dead in here to be mall, with all these closed-up stores. Strange."

Arjay Armani works at MyPhoneFix, a kiosk inside the mall. He says usually the only people who patronize Landmark Mall are foreigners.

"Nobody else comes here," he says. "So that's why you see a lot of mom and pop stores. The only U.S. companies are cell phones, Sears, Victoria's Secret, and Macy's."

Sears and Macy's are here to stay, but the rest of the tenants in the mall are in doubt. Earlier this month, the Alexandria City Council approved a plan to transform the 11-acre site into an open-air, mixed-use community with retail, residential and entertainment space. That's good news for city leaders, who have wanted to revive the ailing mall for years. But it's also created a sense of uncertainty here.

Laurie Noufal has managed a hair salon in the mall for more than 20 years.

"Yes, we want to see development," says Noufal. "Yes, we want to see the city of Alexandria do much better and look much better. But then, you know, it's a challenge to us."

Noufal was here when the mall converted from a strip mall to an enclosed structure. In those days, the parking lot was full, and the storefronts were all occupied. Now the place is a ghost town. And although customers are few and far between, Noufal still has loyal customers who live in the area.

"They say they are going to take it down by June," she says. "So we have to be out by next June. So we don't have much time."

That means Noufal and the other small businesses here have about a year to find a new place to set up shop.

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