Small businesses asked to leave Pembroke Mall with little heads up ahead of renovations

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — When Chopper 10 flew over Pembroke Mall in 1988, the building itself was already more than 20 years old.

Asset Manager Ramsay Smith says the mall was the first of its kind in Hampton Roads and withstood the test of time until about 2001. The internet boom at the time brought digital storefronts that quickly aged the business model of malls across the country — Pembroke was no exception.

That’s why, back in November, developers announced their plan to revamp Pembroke Mall into a mixed-use destination with residential, shopping and dining options.

The plan includes relocating several small business owners who own storefronts inside the mall. Some of them say there wasn’t enough of a notice.

“We definitely would have made some different decisions if we would have known it was gonna be that soon,” said spa owner Denise Akers. She signed her lease in August of this year. “I wish maybe they would have given us at least another month or two with the holidays.”

“We’ve obviously announced it as much in advanced as we could,” Smith said. “We can’t please everybody all at the same time. Some people would rather us announce it later because they have employees that they’re concerned about. They have to continue to have employees.”

Smith went on to say that he and his associates are using their resources to help store owners relocate.

Akers says the group, in her experience so far, hasn’t been much help.

“They gave us some realtor’s card I guess that is part of their group, their Pembroke Realty group. Not really, not very helpful at all, but you know I was able to connect with another realtor with another company. He’s been really awesome,” she said.

As malls continue to struggle nationwide, Pembroke Square Associates says the redevelopment will include the following initials projects:

  • Independent senior living managed by Beth Sholom, a respected and recognized senior
    living company, based in Virginia, that serves people of all faiths;
  • A nationally known, new to the Virginia Beach market, contemporary full-service hotel concept; and
  • Apartment living with innovative, attractive amenities that will appeal to young professionals, families and empty nesters.

Even with small business owners being forced out, Akers understands the decision from a business standpoint. Both she and Smith hope this creates new opportunities for everyone in the future.

“This is not a re-owned property. Families that own it have been here for a long time. They’ve developed a lot of this area. They held on for this long and never sold it. It’s a sense of pride in what we’ve created. Every time we build something new here, I’m gonna be proud because I’m helping create the future,” Smith said.

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