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Military Circle Mall says goodbye to Norfolk

Pictured: Military Circle Mall. Jillian Pippins/Spartan Echo

Military Circle Mall of Norfolk has offically closed as of January 31.

The Economic Development Authority announced in August 2022 that the mall would be closed and be prepared for demolition.

Within its 52 years of standing, Military Circle Mall became a home for small businesses. However, with the mall being around for so long– it had been facing a series of issues.

The main problems were with the structure of the mall. Director of Economic Authority, Sean Washington, said, “Due to the 15 year old assets, roof repairing could no longer take place. A full blown replacement of the roof had to take place for it to be up to code,” Washington continued.

All together the cost is estimated to be about $5 to $8 million. The air conditioning units have also been causing problems. “One of them was completely down, and that particular AC unit was over 40 years old and the secondaryone was on its last leg,” Washington said.

Ultimately, the issues had led to financial hardships that were out of the Economic Development Authority board’s hands. “Some of those quotes that we got were anywhere from about a million dollars to about two million dollars.” This called for all of the businesses to either shut down or relocate.

African Art Bookstore owner Maria Hewitt expressed that with limited space for African stores in Hampton Roads, it will be difficult to relocate.

“MacArthur has Roots, Greenbrier has Roots, Chesapeake Square has Ebony Art & ample gifts, Lynnhaven has Culture Shop, Patrick Henry has one. So where are we gonna go,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt also highlighted the near future goals for the store. “We have to figure out how to move our whole store. I want our whole store clear before we move.”

Washington is aware this is stressful for store owners. He notes how they plan on helping the current business owners continue to be successful.

“We’ve done a 50% rent abatement for those who stayed till the end of January 31 of the New Year.” Washington also mentions how they planned on giving a cash bonus to those who have been working in the mall for a certain amount of years.“If you put in a significant amount of what we call tenant improvement into your space, we’ll look to rebate part of that back to you as well,” Washington said.

Hewitt plans for relocation, “We have our chins up, heads up, and just go on and keep moving forward.”