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Ask Adam: Ballston Common Mall

by ARLnow.com | April 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm | 11,908 views | 256 Comments

Editor’s Note: This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Lisa says she’d like to know the following about Ballston Mall:

  1. “Are there plans for renovation? If so, will it be a complete tear down, face lift, efforts to get new stores in etc.?”
  2. “What stores might be considered? Has there been a reason to date that better stores have stayed away? (I’m assuming there is low rent, based on who has been there.)”
  3. “If no plans, given the whirlwind of other development of the Ballston area, how do the owners of the mall expect to be taken in a newer and nicer Ballston?”

I wish I could tell you that Ballston Common Mall has definite plans to redevelop itself into a fresh new option that will replace your need to hike over to Pentagon City or fight the traffic surrounding Tysons Corner.

There are three major stakeholders in Ballston Common Mall: Macy’s, Forest City Enterprises and Arlington County. Macy’s owns their respective stores at either end of the mall. Forest City owns the remaining shops and offices. Arlington County owns the parking garage. Substantive changes to the property as a whole will need to involve the consent and participation of the owners of all the various connected parcels.

The Arlington County official I spoke to said that they have not received any formal requests to modify the mall at this point. In fact, he made it seem as though they are content with the current limitations of the mall, which I find hard to believe. I expected that Arlington County would be keen on maximizing the revenue of this prime piece of real estate. More revenue equals more tax dollars coming into Arlington County.

Founders Square, located next door to Ballston Common Mall, is a great example of maximizing revenue while adding value to the community. They displaced a Metro bus garage and are building two office towers, a hotel and an apartment building with a number of new retail options on the ground floor.

The person I spoke with at Arlington County took time to point out how well the food court serves local employees. Seriously? The Arbour Realty office is a block from Ballston mall and I have to say that it is a very rare occasion that you will find me at the food court because there are at least 10 better options on the way over there.

Who are the current stores actually serving? If you check out leasing information on the Mall’s website, it notes the following demographic information within a five mile radius:

  • Population — 631,959
  • Average Household Income — $113,317
  • Households — 271,769

We are all well aware that the average household income in the Ballston area is relatively high, but the Mall does not actually seem to cater to local residents unless you’re looking for cell phone accessories or a new pair of sneakers.

The Arlington County official I spoke with explained that it does not make sense for stores to consider Ballston Common Mall if they already have a location in Tysons Corner or Pentagon City because they are so close. His rationale is that a Ballston location would just take business away from the other stores.

I disagree with this conclusion. With Tysons Corner in place, someone decided that the Galleria would be a good idea by catering to a higher-end niche. Reston Town Center has stores that overlap Tysons Corner yet both seem to stay busy. You can also look at Pentagon City and the later creation of Pentagon Row. I’m no expert on the subject of malls, but it seems that there are enough people in Arlington, with enough money to justify the exploration of other options beyond what is currently available at Ballston Commons Mall.

There is some glimmer of hope. According to Forest City’s on-site general manager, they are actively working on redevelopment plans, but are not in a position to publicly discuss them due to competitive concerns, and in deference to the project’s other stakeholders. He asked me to check back in about 90 days. Maybe Arlington County is just putting up a smoke screen or they are just not in the loop yet. As a local resident and business owner, I’m just glad to hear that someone is working on new plans for the Ballston Commons Mall.

In its current state, I have to wonder how much negative influence Ballston Commons Mall currently has on local real estate values. In my experience, home buyers considering Ballston would prefer that the mall provide more attractive options, but can live with what is there. It is certainly not attracting anyone to the area like downtown Clarendon. Though I don’t work in commercial real estate, I have heard that the Mall has been a detractor for commercial tenants looking for space in the Ballston area.

Would Ballston become a more attractive option to you if the space that occupies Ballston Common Mall were used differently? What would be your preference?

Please keep your questions coming: Adam@ArbourRealty.com

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  • South Awwwlington

    A larger Mercedes dealer…no, seriously. ;)

    • http://nelsm4517@mac.com Ballston Commons

      Why not. They have been there for over 40 years doing an honest and good business. We should welcome these type of people. Do you have a problem just because they sell Mercedes? They are a good member of our community and shame on you for disrespecting them.

      • South Awwwlington

        There was no disrespect intended and any perceived by you is merely that. In fact, the dealership is quite nice.

        If you are a frequent reader of this “blog” you would know that several folks took issue with Audi relocating to Columbia Pike, a move that I welcome.

        I would guess that the dealership experienced some kind of push-back from the neighborhood or you wouldn’t have flamed in such a manner. I hope all is healed now.

        • http://nelsm4517@mac.com Ballston Commons

          I hope we are healed now as well and that everyone in our community welcomes businesses like the Mercedes dealership. I think they have been a good member of our community and I don’t want them to leave.

          Respectfully

          • Arlington, Northside

            I just wish they would get their Ferrari franchise back!

  • Tabs

    If not for the rink, they could raze that whole block and make it into an open, Reston Town Center-type plaza.

    • Quoth the Raven

      That would be a hugely cool idea.

    • John Fontain

      “make it into an open, Reston Town Center-type plaza.”

      The ‘town center’ idea is to create a faux urban area in the suburbs with street level retail and other development above. Considering that we’ve already got the real thing right here in Arlington, why not just suggest more of what we’ve got rather than suggest we make a faux version of what we’ve already got.

      • chipotle_addict

        I think the difference is the “fake” town center streets don’t need to really be functional for traffic, while our real urban areas are surrounded by heavy traffic streets.

        That is, wouldn’t it be “neat” to have a town center area with a central fountain, seating, and no cars? It might be similar to the “town center” of Wilson blvd, but the constant vehicle traffic makes it a less enjoyable place for pedestrians to just hang out.

        • Quoth the Raven

          Exactly. Go for the European piazza feeling. We have good enough weather to make it work.

        • Tabs

          Perhaps I should have cited Shirlington as a model so people wouldn’t recoil at the Reston reference.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Sort of like Clarendon Commons? Oh wait, we have Clarendon Commons for that.

          • Quoth the Raven

            But that doesn’t mean we can’t have another one. I don’t think we should just replicate it and have another Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, etc. How about some outdoor restaurants, but without cars driving within inches of your table. That’s what CC doesn’t have.

      • Ivy

        “faux urban area” How true!!! And that is exactly what these outer burb “town centers” are.

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com Ballston Commons

    [Part of post deleted for violation of comment policy]

    No respectable store wants to suffer the losses inflicted by these gangs. That is why we don’t have good stores in Ballston.

    I’m sorry, but that is the way it is.

    Look at the crime reports if you don’t believe me.

    • Rebecca

      Riiiiggghhhhht…. because Pentagon City Malls has ZERO crime

    • John

      I don’t buy you argument at all. The Latino population in Ballston 20 years ago was at least 5 times what it is now and the gangs that were around then no longer exist. Pollard Gardens, a large part of Buckingham, and all the garden apartments along Wilson and Fairfax Drive that were then mostly Latino have been demolished or redeveloped. 20 years ago when the Latino population was much higher, the mall was much healthier with upscale stores like the Limited and Benetton.

      I don’t know about Ballston, but I’ve heard that Pentagon City has a crime problem.

      • Parkington

        Yeah they used to cut each other with Machetes outside my apartment in Buckingham back in the early 80′s.

  • Bill Joseph

    Brilliant article. I live in Ballston and walk through the mall on my way to work every day. The mall is terrible and cannot be saved by a simple facelift.

    Also, Adam, you are also missing a major point in your argument. The area across Glebe Rd from the mall is about to explode with smart development. The Goodyear on the corner of Glebe and Carlin Springs will be torn down this year to make way for a beautiful new apartment tower. The Harris Teeter / ASC parcel has a site plan that follows right after that, which includes retail, commercial, and residential as tall as (I think) 16 floors. I’ve heard that the owner of the land under the Mazda dealership is prepared to redevelop that corner as well.

    The terrible under-use of the Ballston Common Mall will soon be a stark contrast to the development on all sides — not just the Founder’s square and the NSF building sides.

    Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this mall!

    • AllenB

      My Harris Teeter is going to be torn down????

      • Frank

        no, next to it!

        • AllenB

          Phew.

      • OccasionallyAFact

        The plan, still at the discussion stage, involves replacing the current Harris Teeter with a new store in the same block.

      • Ivy

        I wish they would tear down Harris Teeter and replace it with a Wegmans

    • South Awwwlington

      Excuse me for asking, but is teeter going to go and then be incorporated into the new building or is it staying in it current digs?

      • OccasionallyAFact

        As proposed, a new store would be build next to the current one, and then H-T would move. No down time.

    • http://nelsm4517@mac.com Ballston Commons

      Bill Joseph,

      Well said. I agree the Ballston mall should be demolished. It is not viable in its present form and I don’t think they can fix it in the future.

      I don’t think everyone agrees on the reasons for this. I just think the mall has outlived its usefulness.

    • Car-Free Diet

      Mr. Joseph,

      “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this mall!”

      I love your use of this quote, which intentionally or not, implicitly equates the Arlington County’s one-party government with the Soviet Union. Bravo!

      • Terry

        The one party government that WAS VOTED INTO OFFICE by the people of Arlington County. Yes, democratically elected officials totally = Soviet Union. You seem smart.

    • Arlington, Northside

      I hate that we are losing another new car dealer. It is going to suck when we all have to drive to Woodbridge to get our warranty work done.

    • Ms Ballston

      Yes, Ballston Mall is a sorry sight these days!! When the old Parkington shopping center was renovated approximately in 1985, it did look very nice and it was exciting. Now, it is simply depressing. With the planned development surrounding the mall, two or more grocery stores are needed! As it is, Harris Teeter and Giant are not alway well stocked.

  • Chipper J

    Why can’t we get some REAL stores into this mall and that would help change the perception and demographic that seems to loiter around there.

    I’d love to see a J Crew, Banana, Gap, or any brand name major player get in there. If rent is so high why do we have numerous thingamajig stores occupying the space and how on earth do they afford the rent??? So puzzling to me…

    • Ballstonian

      I think you could get an Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond there for starters, if only Macys would give up the furniture store.

    • http://nelsm4517@mac.com Ballston Commons

      Chipper J,

      We cannot get the kind of stores you suggest because of the Spanish gangs who live around and steal from Ballston Mall. Until we get rid of these bad people, the mall will be a scourge.

      • esmith69

        Oh right, I guess we all forgot that “Spanish gangs” (whatever those are, BTW) are the only people that commit crimes in the area…

      • Chipper J

        There’s crime in every mall, not to mention the term “Spanish” refers to someone from Spain. The word is Latino and that comment along with your vocab use clearly illustrates your stupidity and ignorance. With a demographic in the area making over $110k per HHI, the fact that these stores are not in here points to barriers of entry. I think Macy’s essentially has a blockade on new stores entering the mall.

        • Chipper J

          …due to their stake and subsequent veto power.

        • Car-Free Diet

          Chipper, explain to me why in the world would Macy’s prevent stores people want to go to open in Ballston Commons, since it is only logical that more people shopping in Ballston Commons means more people shopping in Macy’s stores in Ballson Commons?

          Do you have specialized expertise in retail or commercial real estate that gives you insights that lead you to this conclusion; or are you a windbag that has a grudge against Macy’s?

          After all, the article above states that Macy’s does not own the portion the portions of the Mall it does not occupy. How would Macy’s have veto power over property it does not own? More importantly, why would anyone invest their money in property they do not control?

          I call BS on your tirade against Macy’s.

      • Los Tiburones

        I like to be in America!
        O.K. by me in America!
        Everything free in America
        For a small fee in America!

      • Good Grief

        I didn’t realize the people of Spain were coming overseas to cause chaos. I’d prefer to get rid of your uneducated self.

        • Ivy

          Good one Good Grief!

      • Ms Ballston

        A lot of the “gangs” are coming in from the Seven Corners area. I catch the bus from Safeway down on Wilson Boulevard sometimes and many times cannot get a seat until the crowd gets off at Ballston Mall.

    • kdub

      +100
      I couldn’t agree more.
      The shops in this mall are a complete waste.
      I’d like to think folks would shop there if there were somewhere worth spending money.
      Crime is not isolated to Ballston Mall. That is the dumbest explaination I have heard in a while.

    • Frank

      masturbating bums are bad for business.

    • Arlington, Northside

      15 years ago you had Britches Great Outdoors, a great Foot Locker, and I think there was a GAP in there too, or maybe Ceder Post.

  • Ballstonian

    I think there’s definitely something to the concept that some retailers don’t want to have too much overlap of their stores. For example, while I would like a Barnes & Nobel in Ballston, there’s one in Clarendon and another in Seven Corners, so it probably wouldn’t make sense from a corporate standpoint. Yes Pentagon Row and Tysons 2 exist, but they dont have (much) overlap of Pentagon City and Tysons 1.

    • Anon

      Personally I live nearby and I usually go to Georgetown to shop. Pentagon and Tyson’s are a pain to get to using public transportation.

      When I have made it out to Pentagon City and Tyson’s they are PACKED. I won’t go to Pentagon City in the afternoon or Tyson’s at all on a Saturday. Its a traffic jam just trying to walk anywhere in the store.

      I can’t imagine with this much business at both places that they aren’t losing sales on people like me that just don’t want to deal with the headache.

      • Michael H.

        Georgetown is easier to get to using public transportation? The Pentagon City mall sits directly above a Metro station. Georgetown doesn’t have a Metro stop.

        • Ms Ballston

          You can take the #38 Bus marked Farragut Square.

        • Anon

          Walk over the Key Bridge from Rosslyn vs. transfer and wait for god knows how long on the weekends at Rosslyn for the Blue line.

      • dk

        agree. I can’t stand Tyson’s and I go to Pentagon City only under duress. If I could shop some decent stores at Ballston, I’d be there.

        Even the Macy’s at Ballston sucks. The merchandise they carry there is awful.

    • John Fontain

      Yes, but there are plenty of retailers who don’t have any presence in northern Virginia.

      The mall’s problem is that it is in a vicious negative cycle. It’s run down because it can’t attract quality tenants and it can’t attract quality tenants because it’s run down.

      • Ballstonian

        Thats why i think its a multistep process. If you get an Old Navy and/or Bed Bath & Beyond, those don’t have much of a presence in the area (theres an ON in Potomac Yard, not sure where the nearest BBB is), they’re not upper echelon in terms of price, and they’d add some credibility to the mall, hopefully attracting more tenants. But if Macys is intent on keeping the furniture store, those places probably wont be interested.

        • FrenchyB

          Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond both have locations in Bailey’s Crossroads.

        • CrystalMikey

          Also a Bed Bath & Beyond in Pentagon Row.

        • Anon

          Also a Bed Bath and Beyond in Chinatown in DC.

        • bobco85

          There are both an Old Navy and a Bed, Bath & Beyond at Baileys Crossroads, and I’d say that they get most of the traffic due to being easy to access with lots of free parking available. That said, I agree with your idea that stores like that would bring more tenants into the mall.

          • SouthPikeGuy

            Also co-located with an excellent grocery store. Like it or not, those stores can absolutely flourish in a mega-parking shopping center like that. You can bring you SUV there on Saturday, not have to pay to park, not have to circle around some multi-level parking structure, fill up with your bulk items and get out and get home.

            Trying to shoe-horn them into a shopping mall like Ballston is going against their most profitable type of shopper.

        • Greg

          There’s an Old Navy in Tysons.

          When I think of classing the place up, Old Navy doesn’t come to mind.

          Let’s say we did make the Ballston Mall a go-to place. How on earth would the area handle the traffic? That Glebe/Wilson intersection is already a pain.

      • Car-Free Diet

        BINGO!!!

      • drax

        Nah, I don’t see it as run down. I think the problem is that it needs a second anchor store. That would bring the rest of it back to life.

  • Curious George

    I talked to one of the shop owners last Christmas and they said that foot traffic is not enough to sustain their business and they will be gone once their lease runs out.

    They primarily blamed it on perceived indifference by mall management.

    Ballston Mall did not suck in the mid 90s and there was far less development in the neighborhood.

    I think they should build an indoor shooting range at the mall. Tons of customers who don’t want to trek to the outer burbs. Of course I assume there is already a shooting gallery there but that is not the same thing. :)

    • Arlington, Northside

      By the mid-90s the Mall was headed down, as soon as Woodie’s closed in 1995 a spiral quickly followed.

      • Arlington Native

        It was a JC Penney’s (not Woodies) and it closed in 2000 but I otherwise agree with your comment. Maybe you’re thinking of the Woodies at Seven Corners which closed in 1995?

        • Curious George

          Glad you remembered that. I thought I was going senile. I was pretty sure the suckage did not start until later.

          Even the gym on the third floor was pretty nice when it opened but went downhill fast.

        • Arlington, Northside

          OK, you are right, I was thinking of the one at Fair Oaks, another once great shooping destination in the area that has gone to crap.

  • DarkHeart

    In defense of the Mall, Arby’s and Chik-Republicana are convenient.

    • Tre

      +1 for Arby’s

  • Thes

    I would love to see a Dave & Busters there. That place needs more anchors for foot traffic, and maybe non-retail anchors would help.

    • Mac

      Would love a D&Bs there, If you’re looking for a better steak in an arcade setting, you are sh*t out of luck.

      • Alamerican

        HAAAAA! It’s Always Sunny in Arlington.

        • Arlington, Northside

          D&B would seem to be a perfect fit, complementing the ice rink even. When they tear down White Flint; Macy, Forest City and the County need to lobby hard to get them over to this side of the river! Benihana could be a good fit too.

    • Tabs

      Tabs’ Penultimate Ballston Mall Wish List!

      Nordstrom
      Target
      PetMac or other combined retail high-end pet food/rescue org
      Spa World east (ooh, good one, right?)
      Shirlington-like movie theater
      Pho Ballston (chicken and beef)
      Hair salon like Urban Style Lab
      Bike store
      Good gym

      • Bandersnatch

        Conte’s… errr Freshbikes is right outside. People call them snobby (yes, they carry ridiculously expensive bikes) but their mechanics are the best around and they’ve always treated me very well.

      • Nels

        +1 for a Target!

    • Lizzie

      I would love to see a D&Bs there, the closest one is an hour out, without traffic. It would be a great draw for the mall.

  • LibraryLady

    What that mall needs is a multipurpose store like TARGET.

    If that replaced the Macy’s furniture store, I’d be the happiest girl on the Orange Line.

    • John Fontain

      Or better yet, a Wal-Mart.

      • Terry

        Or not. This thread is complaining about an underwhelming mall and you want to put a Wal-Mart in it? HA!

        The Arlington county board would never allow a Wal-Mart to stain our county anyway.

    • Ballstonian

      I dont see it happening without a total re-do of the mall. You’d have to have direct access to the parking garage (unless you want people to push their carts through the entire mall and then take the elevators to their cars), and Im not sure if the garage extends in that direction (nor are the garage levels the same as the mall floor levels).

      Also, there’s a Target in Seven Corners, and depending on where you’re travelling from, its not much easier to get to the mall, park, and walk to the furniture store than it is to drive on to Seven Corners.

      The reason why I’m focused on the driving/parking aspects is because I don’t think that Target (or wallmart) can get by simply by foot traffic/people buying a couple of items, and instead get by by people guying carfuls of stuff.

      • Vinh An Nguyen
        • LibraryLady

          @ Ballstonian, you’re assuming that everyone drives in this area. There isn’t a multipurpose store (Walmart, Target, etc) on the Orange Line.

          There’s a large quantity of people who participate in the “Car Free Diet” that Arlington’s always promoting. Plus, there are a lot of people who work in this area, especially since they’re opening the new building.

          • Ballstonian

            I understand that not everyone drives, but the fact a Target in the mall would be nice for non-drivers does not mean that a target in the mall would be worth Targets investment.

        • Squeegy

          I think the main difference between a true urban location like Manhattan (or downtown seattle, or downtown DC) is that Ballston is, aside from its very core, suburban, with people who have cars and can drive the 2 miles to Seven Corners (or Potomac Yard, or Baileys) to go to Target. Putting a target in the Mall wouldnt solve any sort of necessity, but would be nice for people who don’t have cars. I don’t know if there’s enough of those people to make such a location worth the investment.

      • Arlington Native

        The current Macy’s Furniture Store was previously a JC Penney’s and I recall that there was direct access to the parking garage from one of their upper floors. Putting a Target (or another scaled-down version of a similar store) in that space could totally work.

      • Car-Free Diet

        There is also a Target at Baileys Crossroads/Skyline but apparently most of the Arlingtonians on this website are snobs that refuse to set foot near Baileys Crossroads, let alone recognize it exists

        • Arlingtonian

          I love Bailey’s Crossroads and Skyline and go there often, myself. I can get a ton of shopping done in one general area without having to pay anything to park or deal with parking garages.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Isn’t there direct garage access from the Furnature Store? There was when it was Woodies.

        • Mr. Lothrop

          There was never a Woodies at Ballston Common Mall.

  • John

    Adam, check out the Center City development in DC that is rising where the old Convention Center used to be. I think it’s a Hines or Forest City project. Also, the North Bethesda development that will replace White Flint mall. Contemporary architecture and breaking up that huge megablock will make Ballston much more attractive to higher end retail.

    • Car-Free Diet

      John, I total agree with you, what Ballston Commons needs is high-end redevelopment because the land on which Ballston Commons sits is worth more then all the old rundown buildings that currently sit on top of it. Once that site is redeveloped it is now longer financially attractive for a low-end mass-market store like Target, Walmart or Old Navy to locate there. This would not be a case of Ballston being snobbish, but rather recognizing economic reality.

      Besides, there are grocery stores on the orange line, like the Giant only a few blocks from Virginia Square. Being on a car-free diet doesn’t mean you can’t be expected to walk a short distance from the Metro. There is also the new Trader Joes in Clarendon.

      • Arlington, Northside

        The office towers are neither old or run down and as far as I know are close to fully occupied. The chance to be knocking the place down and starting over passed in about 1998.

  • DS

    With all due respect to Adam Gallegos, this “article” is well beyond the scope of his professional expertise. Being a residential real estate broker has nothing to do with knowing anything about commercial real estate. I’m glad to see people are interested in re-development of Ballston Common, but this “article” is just pure speculation, and not even very well-informed speculation. Stick to the housing market, Adam.

    • kdub

      Expertise or not, kudos to Adam! I’m glad the topic is being discussed. This mall is such a waste!

    • http://arbourrealty.com Adam G

      Thanks for the advice DS. I’m planning to stick to residential real estate as a profession, but am happy to do my best to answer the questions that readers ask me. Rather than tell me what I don’t know, why don’t you tell us what you do know about this subject.

      • John Fontain

        Oh no he di’int. Two snaps in a z formation.

        • D’oh

          Best comment here.

      • 1RLI

        Oooo…looks like DS touched a nerve!

      • AllenB

        Go Adam!!

      • South Awwwlington

        Good for you Adam!

        The Snark-A-Tron is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY over the top today.

      • Arlingtonian

        …That was awesome.

      • dk

        +1

    • SouthPikeGuy

      Agree. It’s the same opinion you will see in some of the older discussions about the mall.

      “The mall has been here for a long time but I don’t like the stores and my friends told me some people don’t like it but they say the food court is doing OK but who cares right so why not just do something different because I don’t like the stores and my friends told me….”

  • tender_sports_bro

    what the mall REALLY needs is some sort of mexican/spanish bar. With Chevy’s gone, there is no longer a place to get margs or sangria. How can the mall expect to keep the local population happy without either of these things?

    • Car-Free Diet

      What the mall needs is a meeting with the wrecking ball, the sooner the better. The longer Arlington waits the more people will become attached to this eyesore, and then it will attain historic landmark status.

  • Ben

    Wow – got to love government thinking. Because the food court benefits a a select few individuals it’s best to keep the mall the way it is.

    • Blame Canada

      From my read of this article, the government doesn’t have any role in determining what stores & services are in the mall — that’s decided by private mall management. The county just owns the parking. So blame capitalist thinking.

  • JamesE

    I live in Ballston and I want that mall to be imploded, I only go in there maybe once every 6 months when I want Arbys.

    • diego

      dude, theres an arby’s down there?

    • Mac

      do they have the Big Montana still?

      • JamesE

        They better

      • http://purple.purple.com/purple.html PUP

        ya that’s about the only good thing there. and a cold stone creamery.

    • Bill Joseph – TEAR DOWN THE MALL

      I would bet that a straw poll of residents would overwhelmingly agree with you.

      Tear down this mall!

      • JamesE

        I lied, I forgot I use the CVS quite often, but I don’t have to go “inside” the mall for that.

        • Anon

          FYI the prices at the Ballston CVS are several dollars more than those at Clarendon for a few random products I checked.

    • Ivy

      You go into the mall more than I do. The only time I go there is to get to the Verizon kiosk. There is nothing in there.

  • jim

    A Dave and Busters would be great, a first class gym (the small Health and Fitness located there now does not even come close to being first class), an apple store, a best buy, etc etc. There are lots of great ways to update the current mall but unfortunately Forest City Enterprises is more focused on building a town center than improving the existing mall. The result will be that things won’t get better unless Forest City changes their mindset or we can change management companies.

    Why in the world would we want another town center like Clarendon? Clarendon is just down the road a short walk.

    The Ballston Commons Mall provides tons of jobs for the local area.

    The mall is a great resource for a region that is trying to develop a community that uses public transportation and is walkable. Lots of stores, restaurants, etc The last thing people want to do is travel way out to Tysons or Pentagon City.

    • Ballstonian

      I dont see an apple store going in given that there’s one a mile away in Clarendon. What you or I might like isnt necessarily the same as what a corporation will view as profitable.

      • porkchop_milkshake

        Not to mention one in Pentagon City, Georgetown, Tyson’s… Apple Stores are nice and all, but we do have 4 of them within 5 miles of Ballston.

        • CW

          See, this is what’s interesting. Everyone, myself included, laments the dearth of good stores in Ballston Common. But then someone names a specific store, and we say “no, no, no” and name 4 of them in a 30 minute radius. Between Pentagon City, Tyson’s, Georgetown, Clarendon, etc. we really do have everything covered.

          I think we might just need to resign ourselves to realizing that Ballston Common is probably not going to host the 6th Gap within 10 miles anytime soon (or BR, or anything Ann Taylor, Target, or any other big box retailer that would never constrain themselves to that limited format).

          The space needs to be taken in a different direction. I don’t know what, but something different.

          • Mac

            luxury apartments/condos! Genius!

          • phfyrebyrd

            Yeah… because there’s a shortage of those in NoVa.

          • Mac

            that was sarcastic

          • South Awwwlington

            Wegman’s-Arlington perhaps?

          • Car-Free Diet

            CW, you are right. I think high-end retail is the way to go along with offices/residences. Think Tyson II but more like the area near the Mazza Gallary. As Adam noted, the population has the level of income to support such a development.

            It is hard to believe that mass-market retail is going to be successful there. If it was, it would have already happened. Again, I doubt it is Macy’s holding up new popular stores. Also ridiculous to blame the private owners, Forest City. Nobody mentioned that there is an almost brand new multi-screen stadium seating theater in this mall, which usually draws crowds, but if it does most people go to the movie, maybe gets a bite to eat, and runs out. The shopping experience at Ballson Commons is the worst. It rivals Landmark Center and Springfield Mall, both slated for redevelopment, Springfield definitely will and possibly even Landmark will be redeveloped before Ballston. ANOTHER reason for retailer lack of interest in Ballston at the present time. Bottom line, Ballston is NOT a shopping destination. If it ever was, it is most definitely not now.

          • Arlington, Northside

            So not much of a chance of Cycles Inc. making a return? :(

          • nom de guerre

            It’s pretty dangerous riding a motorcycle wearing flip flops, so I would guess not much of a chance of a return.

  • Cathy

    Speaking of overlapping stores, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works don’t seem to have any issues while having stores in both Pentagon City and Tysons.

    A Target would be AWESOME!!!

    • Richard Cranium

      Vertical Wegmans!

      • Cathy

        +10000

        No one would go to Teeter anymore. ;)

      • http://purple.purple.com/purple.html PUP

        yeah that sounds incredible.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    First of all, it’s not that stores don’t want to overlap, it’s that some of them are prevented from doing so. It’s not uncommon for a mall owner to put a radius restriction clause in a lease with a national tenant preventing them from cannibalizing this location. So if there is a national / super-regional store in Pentagon City, there is at least a real possibility that they have agreed not to not locate another one within x miles. Being between Pentagon City and Tyson’s has probably limited, to some extent, the tenants that could come to BCM – it most certainly has limited the anchors.

    Additionally, with respect to the comment that the mall suffers from management indifference, I believe that to be intentional. That mall has been in a holding pattern for years. The cell phone / hair salon / dollar stores proliferate because they are temporary tenants who require only the most basic of finish-out. Art Galleries are the archetypical temporary tenants. Here one day, can be gone the next. A landlord would rather have something like these in a space than have a vacant space while they look for a new permanent tenant, so they’re usually on low-rent, short-term, easily terminable leases. It seems that BCM has been almost exclusively filling with these types for years, leading me to believe that they’re either looking to sell to someone who would have an alternative use for the site, or there are redevelopment plans in the works. They’ve positioned it so that the majority of the tenants can probably be booted very quickly – maximum flexibility.

    • DS

      Now here is someone who knows something about commercial real estate! Give Lee-n-Glebe Adam Gallegos’ column!

      • Sunna

        DS- seriously why are you such a hater? If you hate his columns stop reading it and stop reading the comments lol. No one is forcing you to be unhappy!

        • AllenB

          Maybe DS is just a jilted bf/gf of Adam.

      • B

        DS,

        seriously man, go back to your post at pouring cement. This column is to generate buzz and get people talking. Not completely hating on someone, who clearly states that they are not fluent in “Commercial Real Estate”, time and time again.

        I’ll honk at you when i drive by you in the morning.

        • JamesE

          It is amazing how worked up a few people get over sponsored posts. Adam is stating his opinion and echoing the thoughts of pretty much everyone that lives in Ballston, deal with it (puts on sunglasses)

        • Quoth the Raven

          I agree – curse all those bad-commenting cement-pourers!!!

        • Sunna

          Nicely said! All my friends complain about the mall so this discussion is pretty interesting and some comments pretty entertaining. Lee-n-Glebe’s insight is great!

        • Southeast Jerome

          DONT TAZE ME BRO

    • jim

      @Lee-n-glebe comments seem to ring true. Forest City Enterprises needs to have their town center dreams squashed so that they either commit to a future for the mall or sell so that someone else will commit. There is great potential for the mall that will never be realized under ownership that would just as soon see the mall fail so that they can redevelop.

    • Anon

      Some might be prevented from doing so, but there are several stores that have or still exist in both Georgetown and Pentagon City. The distance btw Pentagon City and Georgetown is shorter than that btw Pentagon City and Ballston.

      As retailers are leaving Georgetown due to the high rent, Forest City should be courting them…

    • CW

      Now this sounds like it is coming from someone who knows the subject…this makes a lot of sense.

    • SouthPikeGuy

      Well summarized Lee-n-Glebe.

    • jan

      Lee-and-Glebe
      You get the first prize for a rational analysis of this sad state of affairs.

  • JamesE

    A Taco Bell inside the food court would instantly attract upscale retail such as Nordstrom’s, JCrew, etc and also raise property values by at least 200%.

    • Mac

      it would also add 10 HP to everyone’s car/truck as well.

      • JamesE

        Only Type-R and V-TEC stickers do that.

        • Mac

          my bad

  • Tabs

    Nordstrom
    Target
    PetMac or other combined retail high-end pet food/rescue org
    Spa World east (ooh, good one, right?)
    Shirlington-like movie theater
    Pho Ballston (chicken and beef)
    Hair salon like Urban Style Lab
    Bike store
    Cupcake FroYo

    • Fat Boy

      Burgers
      Pizza

    • CW

      Tysons and Pentagon City
      7 corners and potomac yard, and unlikely to do small format.
      Petmac 4 blocks away…Unleashed on Lee Hwy
      Ok, good one.
      What is a Shirlington-like movie theater?
      Ok.
      My god, can there possibly be more hair salons??!!
      Conte’s (ick), Revolution, Papillon, couple more within 5 min.
      Clearly a joke, ok.

  • Conflicted

    The sad thing is that all the market research the building management needs is right here on the message board. If I was in charge I would allow Gap to move in for free with the option to open Banana in a prime store front for free within the next year.

  • Tabs

    Sportrock
    Biergarden
    Art supplies store with classes
    Dance studio

    • CW

      Now this is more interesting, but can they pull down the $/sqft really needed to sustain that development?

      • Tabs

        Movie theater-wise, I was thinking of artsy stuff over blockbusters.

        • jan

          Shirlington also pops their own corn

      • Tabs

        REI?

        • Quoth the Raven

          American Girl Store. Families flock there by the thousands.

        • Geezer

          REI would be awesome. A huge one like in Denver.

          • CW

            There’s an REI 10 minutes away on route 7…

          • JamesE

            Route 7 is a disaster!

          • Bluemontsince1961

            Amen, James!

          • Ballstonienne

            You can get there without driving on Route 7! It’s a 10 minute drive from Ballston, at the most.

          • Tabs

            I thought that at least part of this discussion is about Metro accessibility.

          • nom de guerre

            REI is on Carlin Springs which runs through Arlington unlike Route 7.

          • Car-Free Diet

            CW, don’t bother, it’s already been shown that many of the Arlingtonians on this site behave as if Baileys Crossroad doesn’t exist; don’t need them, don’t want them.

          • Arlington, Northside

            REI is on Carlin Springs Rd., really.

  • http://www.11points.com/Books/11_Things_The_Bible_Bans,_But_You_Do_Anyway Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Give me a Marshall’s/Ross/TJMaxx to browse through during my lunch break, and I’d be a happy camper… I’d probably even be making more than a few impulse buys.

    • Greg

      Yeah, because that will really “class up” the mall and attract other more attractive retailers…

      • Mac

        lol

    • Cathy

      I’d be happy with TJ Maxx or Marshalls but not so much Ross.

  • girlFace

    really ! Why is it that all the stores in BCM are weird foreign knock-offs of the
    ‘Guadalajara–Bangalore- Manila-bazaar’ flavor ?
    No one who actually lives close by really shops there…it’s
    un-shoppable
    think the bars are bringing in all the foottraffic & $$

    as far as duplicate stores – the version of Vicky’s secret and BigSmellyBath that are in BCM are mere shadows of the real ones in Pentagon city…they hardly have anything save for the least expensive merch
    as a practically next door resident, I dont consider the BCM an option at all…its clarendon, the pent city or georgetown and then lastly Tyson’s Disaster

  • Ballston Resident

    BCM doesn’t need to be torn down, but it does need some curb appeal. The Wilson Blvd section in Ballston has real potential with the new places like Rustico/Buzz and Founders Sq coming, but the mall is just such an eye sore. CVS and a bank are bad street level tenants. If Rock Bottom and Union Jacks has their outdoor space on Wilson Blvd, the mall would immediately feel different. The store inside may always be a waste of space, but the restaurant scene has short term turn around potential.

    If I were the mall operators, I would focus my short term efforts on curb appeal.

  • http://purple.purple.com/purple.html PUP

    REI, Target, Best Buy, Dave & Busters

    • CW

      All of those have locations within 10 minutes except for D&B…

      • Tabs

        Go car-free, CW!!

        • Car-Free Diet

          Get real. You want car-free, move to Manhattan. Otherwise, get use to complaining until the Metro goes out to Tysons. Another reason not to invest the current Ballston eyesore.

        • CW

          I would say that I am 95% car free, and I love it. I bike commute to work and walk most everywhere. Shopping and out-of-town trips are really the only two instances where I use my car.

          • http://purple.purple.com/purple.html PUP

            same here, 95%. but putting those things in the ballston mall could make it 100.

    • Michael H.

      Best Buy is going the way of Circuit City. The entire company is slowly fading away because of the competition from online retailers (Amazon.com, Newegg).

  • Cherrydale Ken

    Over the course of almost 18 years that I’ve lived in Cherrydale, I’ve seen Ballston Commons Mall slide slowly into the land of “Why would I ever go there?” and seriously, I would never point a finger at any demographic group that took it there. I think it’s the fact that Ballson Mall has slowly slid from a Class A or B property to a Class C or D and no highly respected national brand such as JCrew or even Old Navy will open a store in a property that isn’t rated high enough to generate the client traffic they are interested in. When I first moved to the area, received an update and along with the Hecht’s and JCPenney anchors, there was Britches, their more upscale iteration: Britches of Georgetown, Victoria’s Secret, and several other brand name stores that most malls feature.

    For some time, I thought the mall was positioning itself to become more about dining and entertainment (movies, street-level restaurants, skating facility) rather than shopping. I think this could be a smart move however it has appeared that the mall owners have been content to just let the property slide into the low-end and only service the casual office employee shopper / browser. (Think L’enfant Plaza before it’s recent redo.)

    The mall really needs a rethink, not just a redo. The Ballston neighborhood was one of the first areas to explode thanks to the Metro. The entire neighborhood is ripe for a freshen up or a do-over which has been in progress for probably about 10 years actually. Just as Clarendon has, it will find itself and get there.

    • Allie

      This is what’s the most interesting point to me. The Ballston neighborhood is maturing right along with the rest of the R-B corridor, and yet for some reason this mall continues to lag behind — and to have actually performed inversely from the rest of the neighborhood’s development. I would point to the stigma of the enclosed mall, which is becoming increasingly less popular nationwide, but everyone’s already pointed to Tyson’s and Pentagon City as successful comps. So, why IS it that the BCM has declined as the rest of the neighborhood has started to grow up? So confusing.

  • Terry Holzheimer

    I am one of the County officials that Adam spoke to and suggest that he reached very odd conclusions based on the facts he was given. For one, the County has been working on the refurbishment and retenanting of the Mall in conjunction with the owner and they have not filed any plans as yet. There is strong interest on behalf of both parties to upgrade the Mall. Second, BCM will not likely be a reflection of Tysons but needs some different tenants, something that the owner is working on. Third, the dining and food court uses are very successful and will remain. The Ballston market characteristics are strong and the Mall and County have done a great deal of market research. Malls all over the nation are closing but the market and performance of BCM are good and will improve as the retail market recovers.

    • Bill Joseph – TEAR DOWN THE MALL

      Terry Holzheimer,

      With all due respect, I don’t think BCM will ever recover in an acceptable way. How exactly have you defined “recovery”? Compared to other malls in cornfields, or compared to the higher uses for a large parcel of land in a dense urban center close to the Metro? Higher uses like those described in these comments are the only type of “recovery” that Arlington residents will accept.

      Upgrading the mall and putting new tenants in the same spaces is merely lipstick on the pig. The problem is the entire structure. It needs to be completely re-thought. If it remains commercial, maybe it needs to be at least partially outdoor, with pedestrian thoroughfares. Think Reston Town Center or The Market Common (Clarendon).

      P.S. The “food court” PIT is about as unappetizing as the health department inspections those restaurants regularly receive. The underground, poorly-lit, poorly-arranged PIT is just unsalvageable.

      • Allie

        Very much like Georgetown Park Mall, which suffers from even worse blight than BCM, it would be greatly appreciated by the surrounding neighbors to know more information about what the County and Mall’s plans are, looking forward. As a Ballston resident and someone who works in Georgetown, I’m frustrated all the time by both of these massive enclosed malls with seemingly no rehab plans in the works. I know that Vornado Realty has something up its sleeve for GPM (hence why it’s kicked out nearly all of its tenants since the December 2011 leases ran out), but won’t share with the public.

        Will Arlington County and BCM be willing to be more open, and specific, with the community about the “different tenants” that the owner is “working on” and what the market studies have shown?

        • Allie

          (and I know that you can’t simply announce that you’re hoping to bring X tenant to a space without signed LOIs and greater confirmation, but simply informing the public of what direction you’ve envisioned would be a start.)

          • Ballstonienne

            Allie, I actually work in Georgetown and live here in Arlington. Georgetown Park is a good example. But if you follow some of the Georgetown blogs, there is information out there about Vornado’s overall strategy. They will not release details, but the plan has been written about.

        • Michael H.

          Georgetown Park will be overhauled soon. At least that’s the plan. Most of the store spaces are now vacant, clearing the way for major interior renovations.

    • Ballstonienne

      oh snap

    • Mall Walker

      Really? I don’t think Adam’s conclusions are off target at all.

      I think pretty much everyone who has commented here agrees that the Mall is in a dire state, even if they don’t agree on a solution.

      The food court may well be successful, and very likely the restaurants next to the main entrances (Panera/Noodle Place/Cold Stone/Starbucks/Union Jacks/Rock Bottom) but is anything else really thriving?

      I live very close to the Mall, walk through it every day to and from the Metro. I can’t remember the last time I stopped at any of the shops. I used to go into the B.Dalton’s once in a while, and I use the movie theatre, but otherwise – what is there?

      • JamesE

        Exactly, food is not the problem, the dining options are fine, it is the rest of the Mall, it is like the county and the owners refuse to acknowledge this.

        • Tabs

          It gives the whole area a choked-up, maze-like vibe. Like it’s just stuck there, blocking the qi.

      • tad

        I think the Arlington official’s issue with the article was the part where the author claims “In fact, he made it seem as though they are content with the current limitations of the mall, which I find hard to believe.”

        It is one thing to draw conclusions (we all have opinions, right?), but it is another to misrepresent things told to you while researching an article.

    • 171 Comments and Counting

      I’d suggest that the said market research was a fail; just like BCM. The County and Mall need to do something about it. Clearly.

    • Where’s the “Arlington Way”, Terry?

      Terry,

      There’s clearly a huge amount of dissatisfaction, interest, and ideas in the community….but where’s the County’s purportedly famed engagement? Why aren’t you reaching out to the nearby Civic Associations, soliciting commentary, etc. The people who live here know as much, or more, than whatever market research you claim has been done.

      I too hate the mall and would love to see the whole thing torn down. I don’t think that’s happening, if only for the Kettler Iceplex. That said, something major should happen, and soon!

      • Gormley

        Maybe it has something to do with a private property owner doing whatever the hell they want and Arlington not interfering.

  • xtr657

    What happened to the miniature golf idea at the triangular plot of land next to the parking garage?

  • CW

    I agree with the posters saying BCM just needs a do-over. I think it just missed the boat, spatially and temporally. To the former, its location sounds ideal, but it’s really the worst of all worlds. It lacks the space of a suburban location, so large-format retailers are scared off. But it doesn’t have the downtown big-city draw of a Georgetown or Chinatown type area. It’s a suburban-format mall (bland, indoor corridors and atrium) stuck in a quasi-urban space. And, it got left behind time-wise too. All the build-out has happened around it. Tysons, Pentagon City, Georgetown, even Market Common, all these places positioned themselves better and snapped up the stores that maybe BCM could have had. But now it’s too late – the area is saturated with enough outposts of national chains and they don’t need the infill. Drivers would rather drive to a better mall, since they’re already in their cars, and metro riders will go to Pentagon city. Even people who live in Ballston will do one of those two, because BCM sucks. And thus, stuck in a self-reinforcing cycle of infinite suckitude, it will continue to suck.

    Give up, knock it down, put in some mixed-use development with a nice walkable pedestrial mall full of good local restaurants and boutiquey shops. Pour money into the Silver Line, and in a couple years we’ll all be able to take the Metro to Tyson’s. Problem solved.

    • JamesE

      500,000 sqft beer garden (with mini golf)

      • Tabs

        I totes came up with the beer garden idea!

    • Sam

      What do you propose doing with the office buildings on top of and attached to the mall (eTrade headquarters and Coast Guard)? Who would pay for this? If the business that owns the mall is making money why would they go through the expense of knocking it down?

      • CW

        This was a hypothetical, and I was referring to the part that doesnt have office buildings.

      • Arlington Native

        Sam, I was thinking the same thing. I wonder if all the folks clamoring for the mall to get torn down ever noticed the high-rise office buildings that sit directly on top of the mall.

        “Gut out the mall” makes more sense. If the shopping portions can’t be fixed, perhaps it’s time for the space to be redesigned for something else.

        • JamesE

          I would like to see the non office sections opened up to the outside, get rid of the roof, have nice outdoor seating, etc*

          *I am not a civil or structural engineer I have no idea if this is even possible to do.

        • Arlington isn’t hurting for empty office space

          Just saying, there have been a lot of articles on here even of new office spaces seeming odd with all of the vacant office spaces popping up in RB corridor.

  • Arlington Native

    Besides all the things others have suggested here, I think getting good apparel retailers is key if BCM is to remain a shopping center. Female shoppers with middle to high incomes are the life-blood of malls. Shopping centers must have quality women’s clothing & shoe stores to attract them. BCM is sadly lacking. Places like Wet Seal, 4 Her and Payless Shoes aren’t going to bring in professional women looking to add to their wardrobes. The Ballston Macy’s is a joke – poorly staffed and stocked with cheap, low-end merchandise. It reminds me of the old Woodies store in Seven Corners right before it went out of business.

    • Tabs

      Exactly.

      Adding to my list: Comfort One Shoes. They left Clarendon due to greedy landlord, so there’s no Va. store.

      • Tabs

        We middle to high income women demand comfortable but cute shoes!

        • jan

          second that

  • At least it’s not Landmark…

    Not it’s saying much. BUT…at least the stores are not entirely vacant. And there’s no half blacked out section that used to part of the arcade, but is now sealed off. I’m convinced it’s for strippers or drug deals because there’s nothing else keeping that giant chunk of property open.

    Most aptly named building in NoVa EVER = “Landmark” Mall. “Oh where do you work?” “Meh… near Landmark.” or “Where is that Mini Cooper dealership again?” “Oh, right across the street from Landmark”.

    Ok, sorry. Lifelong Arlington resident here and I grew up going to Ballston… it gets worse every year. A county rep can defend their “planning” all they want, but they’ve shown nothing to this point and the run-down condition of BCM is NOT new.

  • http://nationleprechaun.com/ jinushaun

    Ballston Commons Mall is a real blight in the area–a big waste of space. The stores are awful. What self-respecting mall has a CVS an anchor store? BCM also has the worst Macy’s I have ever seen. Replacing BCM is the only option to fix up this area and give downtown Ballston some life. Must Ballston be neglected in order to focus on Clarendon?

    The food court is the only thing I use BCM for, but even then, there are much better options within walking distance.

    • JamesE

      Being surrounded by the new Darpa, VT, (what ever that building is called next to VT) and the soon to be Founders Square is going to magnify it’s ugliness ten fold.

  • Bluemonter

    I agree with 90% of the comments here that BCM currently sucks! I question that the food establishments are doing well…Chevy’s, Smoothie King and Daily Grind are all vacant…

    But..but I do think there is a solution to the mall. A way to bring in better retailers and at the same time give the mall an open feeling while retaining the skate rink and tennants in the towers…

    Have anyone heard of the Salt Lake City revival???
    A rectractable over the mall…

    Like Salt Lake City …arlington has a downtown that is an urban village that would like to add life back to infill space without totally destroying what is in palce.. If you curious check out the ENR From March 19th.

    If anyone from the county is reading this please read and implement. THIS IS IN SOME FORM THE SOLUTION TO BALLSTON MALL.

  • Bluemonter

    A retractable roof would be a sight in itself and BCM would again be a destination. You could have the cute butique stores in a seeting that is cute and open…

  • Chris

    I’ve been mystified for decades at how bleak a shopping center this is, given its proximity to so many customers who easily could support a higher-end mall. What a waste! (And did you know that it’s on the site of one of the first enclosed shopping malls in the United States? Parkington, built in 1949.)

    Don’t know how viable it is, but I think the idea of having something Shirlington-like there is a splendid one.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Look how far Georgetown Park has fallen from its hayday, I would say it is in worse shape then what we have here. Its ONLY real shops left are those that open to Wisconsin Ave like H&M, J. Crew, and Anthropology. All interior stores are pretty much dead there and last time I was there the food court had ONE place open. The days of the interior urban mall is behind us for a while, but will probably return five years after they are able to turn Ballston Commons inside out. :(

      • Michael H.

        The owners of Georgetown Park were intentionally clearing out tenants over the past year or so, in order to move ahead with major renovations. Possibly combining many of the small spaces into a few larger spaces to attract tenants like Target.

        • Arlington, Northside

          It has been on the downward spiral for more than a few years now.

    • Car-Free Diet

      Chris, quiet on the historical significance of this ugly edifice, otherwise Arlington County may include it as part of its cultural/historical landmarks list and strive to maintain it.

  • Bluemonter

    This is what Ballston could be..

    http://www.taubman.com/leasing/421.html

    • CW

      Ooh, me like! Give!

    • lubber runner

      we need to send this url to Forest City Enterprises – a picture speaks a thousand words ..

    • Local neighborhood inhabitant

      That’s in Salt Lake City – where they have no rain. I think a similar model here would be more like Pentagon City Mall – that is, with a roof, albeit clear.

      Two major problems with Ballston Mall, I think, are that the exterior is not inviting, and it’s not quick to park and enter.

      It is very easy to forget there’s a mall there. The big pink exterior wall that used to be at the Hecht’s end, next to an easy-to-enter street-level parking lot, was like an open door beckoning you to enter. Or think about California malls, which on the outside look like huge cartoon factories of bright colors beckoning to kids. Our mall is its own commercial, if your idea of advertising is a concrete parking garage and dark brick walls. Signage is not enough – the mall could use an exterior walls facelift.

      The Ballston parking garage is not quick and is a claustrophobic’s nightmare, requiring time to enter, snake around and find parking within the massive concrete layers, and then it seems always one must take stairs up or down to get to a shopping level (NOT always easy for moms carrying toddlers and/or strollers, or pregnant women), in contrast to the open-air-sides, one or two-level parking lots that provide simple, immediate, one-door entry into the major stores and corridors of Montgomery Mall, White Flint, and Tysons.

  • Alex

    Open up the roof! Here are some big box shops they DON’T have in Clarendon — Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Room & Board, any big sports store (like Great Outdoors), Restoration Hardware. And, of course, a multitude of higher end clothing shops (or even not that high end, like H&M).

    • Tabs

      Oh Room and Board…furniture lust.

      • Local neighborhood inhabitant

        Agree!

    • Michael H.

      I like the idea to put in a Dave & Busters and a large sporting goods/outdoor store like REI. Maybe allow Sport & Health to expand and put in an indoor swimming pool. A real climbing wall would be neat. They need to add features that would serve as true destinations, that distinguish the place from other malls. Make Ballston Commons the “un-mall” or something that better fits the term “commons”. An indoor zip-line would be awesome. (Only half-joking on that.)

  • Marie

    For me, an improved Ballston mall wouldn’t take away from Pentagon City or Tysons, because I loathe going to either location be it by metro or car, but would instead replace some of my online shopping.

  • george

    While it may be true that the movie theaters could use some improvement, I think we should all vocally support their continued existence, whatever happens to the downtrodden main three floors of BCM. Having these theaters so close to both the Metro and a huge parking garage is a major benefit for Arlingtonians. It seems pretty safe to say that the Shirlington and BCM movie complexes can easily co-exist, and I hope they continue to do so.

  • Bluemonter

    Many stores not in the Arlington area that could fill out BCM. I like the idea of an outdoors store.. Big Bass Shop..

    Also like the Spa idea and the Petco suggestion.

    Here are some other stores that would do well in BCM:

    Urban Outfitters
    Barneys
    Microsoft Store
    American Girl Store
    Wink (NYC Chain Store)
    Filenes Basement
    White House/Black Market (maybe not)
    Benetton
    Sacco
    Uniqlo (japanese chain retailer)
    Corning Ware Retail store
    Rugby
    Melissa and Doug Toy Store
    Hersheys Store
    Ten Thousand Villages store
    Bloomingdales
    Talbots
    Lord & Taylor
    Ace hardware Store
    Burlington Coat Factory
    Chilis
    Carloina Herrera Store
    City Sports
    Saks Fifth Avenue
    Ikea
    GAO Schwarz

    • george

      Bluemonter – GAO Schwarz? Methinks you have audits not toys on your mind!

      • Bluemonter

        I do have numbers in my mind…

        FAO Schwarz = $$$’s to BCM :)

    • Arlington Native

      I would LOVE to see an IKEA in the Macy’s Furniture space…or anyplace in the Ballston Mall. I think many people would happily pay the $1 parking on the weekends to save themselves a trip down I-95 S to the current closest IKEA near Potomac Mills. Traffic is always a nightmare.

      • Swede

        Go to the one in College Park. It’s right off the beltway.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Easier to fight I-95 south traffic to Woodbridge, than inner loop traffic to College Park.

          • dk

            What? No need to inner loop. From Arlington, the quickest route to the College Park Ikea is across the rivers to the BW Parkway. My preferred route from Cherrydale is GW Parkway south to Memorial Bridge, then Independence to Maine Ave to 395 North to the SE Freeway (295) to the Penn Ave Exit. Take the bridge across Penn Ave, onto 295 N to BW Parkway. Take the Parkway to the beltway (outer loop), then just a few exits to Ikea. Reverse to come home (except skip the Penn Avenue part, instead stay on 295 to the exit for the Ball Park.) Done and done. I could never explain it to an out-of-towner, but for a local it is much, much more convenient–and much closer–than Woodbridge.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Ikea would require the space of most of the Mall, I don’t think that the Macy’s Furnature space alone would fit their model, but it would be cool.

      • nom de guerre

        I can see all the Car Free diet people walking home from Ikea with their purchases.

  • MC

    Shopping malls are awful period, so I can’t understand why people trash Ballston so much when Pentagon City and Tysons are so anodyne. Yes, the stores in Ballston are dull and low brow, but I’m happy for Macy’s being a short walk, and which has all kinds of essentials (even mattresses). Likewise, I’ve been happy to walk to Radio Shack for an odd adapter. I’ve even seen a movie in Ballston. They can’t tear it down, because there are offices above it, and so there wont be an outside mall. Let’s keep Ballston boring (to keep cars and mall rats away), and keep out the big box stores like Target. Add a few useful stores that sell shoes or sundries.

    • Bluemonter

      What are you talking about?? the current mall has a Glass roof window looking up to blue sky? Why not open it up? The towers are only on parts of the mall. You could add a retractable roof to the mall open up the ends some and add a connecting bridge to Founders Squarre.

  • Matt B

    Forest City did send an email out about a year ago asking people to provide their opinions about the Mall. It certainly does not cater to the surrounding community and the location has a lot of potential to be much better.

    For those who have posted here your comments you might also want to direct them to the management company contacts as well.

    http://www.forestcity.net/properties/shop/regional_enclosed_centers/Pages/ballston_common_mall.aspx

  • Bender

    OVERSATURATION.

    Take a good look. Ballston Common is how the entirety of your Smart Growth Urban Villages — Rosslyn, Clarendon, and Va.Sq./Ballston — is going to look like in 10-15 years.

    The bubble can’t hold the air forever. Eventually, even if it doesn’t burst, the air starts leaking out of the balloon and your left with this sad, limp, useless bag of emptiness.

  • Tabs

    IKEA is a great idea.

  • Arlingtonian

    Almost everything in Ballston Commons is too upscale. Just like the rest of Arlington. It’s not worth spending your money there (or in most other places near Metro stations in Arlington. Go elsewhere, such as Seven Corners.

    Arlington needs more discount stores and factory outlets. Replace Ballston Commons with a Walmart. Then you will see people shopping in Ballston, rather than Clarendon.

    • What?

      LOL….

  • Mr T

    I don’t believe I read anything mentioning laser tag…A few hundred thousand sq ft should be sufficient.

    • http://purple.purple.com/purple.html PUP

      yes, ENTIRE BALLSTON MALL TRANSFORMED INTO LASER TAG.

  • Ricardo

    We could turn it into a vast homeless shelter… 5000 beds at least.

    Or maybe a massive vomitorium for all of those tattooed twentysomethings with college degrees that aren’t worth the paper on which they’re printed, who spend every Thursday through Sunday drinking their lame little lives away, and keeping me awake at night.

  • BallstonDweller

    Does the person from the county who seemed to think the mall is “just fine” also think metro is “just fine”?

    The restaurants are generally ok, but the food court? Generally not.

    I have been to Tysons approximately 6 times since I moved to this area ten years ago–and regretted it every time. Too much traffic. I also generally avoid PC. I really don’t think stores have to worry about a store in Ballston taking away shoppers from Tysons or PC. There are plenty of over-privileged suburbanites to go around in Arlington.

    I visit the restaurants, Macy’s, and CVS. There is at least one place that I have literally never seen a customer in. Funny that in a world that clamors for authenticity, Ballstonians seem desperate for a chain store to notice that we are here.

  • Wendy

    I agree– Ballston Mall needs an influx of NICE stores. I disagree that if they added stores like Apple and Pottery Barn, etc, that it would drastically affect the stores at Tysons and Pentagon, I hate the traffic at Tysons and avoid it like the plague, don’t want to drive all the way to Pentagon City and pay for parking. I will visit those stores when I go visit family in DE where I don’t have to deal with trouble finding a parking spot or an expensive fee to park. Ballston Mall should look to a mall like Christiana Mall in DE. Back in the 80′s, it had pretty ho hum stores, kind of low-budget, like Ballston Mall today, but in the past decade, has expanded and lured much nicer stores there such as Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom’s, Lord and Taylor, Coach Leather and the Apple store. If you add nice stores, the people will come and they will spend. Any Apple store that you go to in this area is ALWAYS packed and I am sure a new one built in Ballston Mall would be the same. Despite what my teenaged son would say, we do not need another athletic shoe store at the mall, we need some decent women’s clothing and home stores there, upscale stores that match the incomes of many who live in this area.

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