CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A re-imagined mall, a mega warehouse and possibly even a brewery are part of one developer’s plan to revitalize one area of Chesapeake.
“Destination Western Branch” is the name Kotarides Development is using to brand its overall vision for the more than 500 acres surrounding the area where Portsmouth Boulevard meets Interstate 664.
“I think we can really energize the community,” said Pete Alex Kotarides, a manager with the Virginia Beach-based development company. “Kind of regain its prominence like it had when the mall first opened as kind of the center of commerce for western Tidewater.”
Kotarides’ company purchased Chesapeake Square Mall last year for $12.9 million.
The 30-year-old mall has recently gone through hard times. Two of the mall’s six anchor stores have sat vacant for more than three years. Several areas of the mall sit with more stores empty than open.
Wednesday evening, neighbors were invited to the mall’s food court to hear more about the new owner’s plan to address those issues.
“Chesapeake Square is undergoing a major redevelopment,” a flyer from Thalhimer commercial real estate firm reads.
Kotarides said retail will always be a part of the property, but the future calls for more entertainment and dining options.
“It’s possible it looks similar but it’s also possible you won’t recognize it. It just depends on how big of a vision we can accomplish,” Kotarides said, indicating big things are to come.
However, in order to build a strong foundation for the mall’s revitalization, Kotarides said they are first pushing for a zoning change for the development of more than 400 acres southwest of the Portsmouth Boulevard and Jolliff Road intersection.
The development project named “The Grove” will include single-family homes, townhomes, apartments, condominiums and senior living facilities. Plans also call for 75 acres to be set aside for a 1 million square-foot warehouse and “Brewery District.”
“Studies show there has been a longtime need for more daytime jobs in Western Branch,” Kotarides said. “This is our chance of addressing it.”
Neighbors who attended were hopeful, yet skeptical.
“We’ve been excited about a lot of things happening in this area….and they didn’t quite come to pass. So I think there is a concern with people here that it will be lasting, that it will be here for a good long while,” said Catharine Rowe, a Western Branch resident.
The large undertaking between the mall and new development could take 10 years to complete when all is said and done, according to Kotarides. However, he is confident “it’s going to be a great success.”
Step one is for the City of Chesapeake Planning Commission is to give approval for the rezoning. They will consider it at their next meeting, Wednesday, May 8, at 7 p.m.