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Regency Mall now in hands of local ownership who intend to revitalize landmark

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-04 07:47:53-05

HENRICO, Va. -- About two weeks ago it was reported that two big local developers planned to create a partnership to acquire Regency Square Mall, and now the purchase is official.

Thalhimer Realty Partners Inc., and The Rebkee Company are the new owners of a 450,000-square foot enclosed mall, which is part of a 820,000-square foot retail center strategically located on around 50 acres, originally built in 1975.

The new owners hope to revitalize the mall, which has seen its stores' sales plummet nearly 60 percent in the past decade.  It’s one of the region’s last enclosed malls after the wrecking ball took down Azalea Square and Cloverleaf Mall. Fairfield Commons, about eight years older than Regency, will soon be demolished.

Sales at Regency were $177 million in 2003, the year both Stony Point Fashion Park and Short Pump Town Center opened, according to Richmond BizSense. By 2013, reported sales were $76 million.

Taubman Centers,  the Michigan-based mall owner since 1997, gave Regency to its lender in a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure deal, in 2012.  In 2014, they sold off Stony Point Mall.

The new owners are optimistic about the opportunity offered by Regency, and they acknowledged change won't happen overnight.

“Regency Mall will be a challenge to reposition in an already crowded retail environment, but due to its superior location, and with the help of Henrico County, our ownership team is up to the task," said Rob Hargett, President of The Rebkee Company.

“Regency Square and the community it serves still have all the elements that make it a wonderful retail destination," said Mark Slusher, Senior Vice President of Thalhimer Realty Partners. "It simply needs the energy and expertise of strong local ownership to explore how it can become an even better retail and entertainment experience.”

Rebkee, headquartered in Midlothian, is known for owning grocery-anchored shopping centers, as well as the recent redevelopment of the Interbake cookie factory near Broad Street and Boulevard. Thalhimer Realty Partners is the development and acquisition arm of local commercial real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer.

Thalhimer will handle leasing and serve as the property manager of Regency.

Mac McCormack owns McCormack’s Big Whiskey Grill in Regency Square Mall.

He said he took a big risk when he opened it eight-and-a-half weeks ago, but believed in the location.

McCormack said he did not know Thalhimer and Rebkee might buy the mall when he opened his restaurant, and was thrilled to hear about the purchase.

“As this area regroups and builds up, the expansion potential for this restaurant is unlimited,” McCormack said.

Karen Held Lynn owns Disco Sports Sporting Goods Store across the street from Regency.

She remembers the mall’s heyday.

“All the good stores were there, it was just, that`s where you went” Held Lynn said.

Held Lynn and McCormack said they believe people who live in the near West End and the Fan want to return to Regency.

“A lot of people talk about how they don`t want to go out to the far West End to shop,” Held Lynn said.

“Even people that live close to here, they don`t necessarily like to go to Short Pump because the traffic is so crazy,” McCormack said.