CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The owner of Chesapeake Square Mall said he’s trying hard to lure a grocery store to take up part of one of the mall’s vacant department stores.

Pete Kotarides, a manager with the Virginia Beach-based development company Kotardies Development, confirmed the intentions Tuesday night, following a meeting at Chesapeake City Hall where the group’s “the Grove” project was approved.

“We know a grocer, a quality grocer for the area is something that has been asked for by the community,” Kotarides said. 

The area is by no means a food desert. Target serves as one of the mall’s anchor stores and Food Lion, Aldi, Lidl and Walmart surround the property.

While he didn’t reveal what market operator they were in talks with, he said it is “a use and user that has good fundamentals.” 

“That is kind of our lead we are trying to nail down as we add other pieces to the puzzle,” Kotarides said.

Kotarides is looking to transform the 30-year-old mall, which has two of its six anchor stores sitting vacant, and many dark storefronts inside. 

At a public meeting earlier in the month, the mall’s hired real estate firm explained they are focused on redeveloping the east end of the mall first with more entertainment and dining options. 

The potential grocery store would be located at the other end of the property, where the long-vacant Sears building sits, according to Chip Wirth, with Wirth Development Corporation, who stood to speak in front of the city council Tuesday in support of the Kotarides “Destination Western Branch” initiative. 

There is no word yet on a timeline for any redevelopment at the mall.