Dulles Town Forming Around
New Regional Mall
D.C. Area's Second Largest Shopping Mall Opens with 130 Stores Anticipated
By Doug Scott
Radio Shack, Gadzooks, Ben & Jerry Ice Cream, and the Disney Store are all part of the cornucopia of retailers who will be making the new Dulles Town Center in Loudoun County home.
With its 130 stores and 1.2 million square feet of retail space expected, the newly opened shopping center will, when fully completed in August, become the biggest super regional mall built in the Washington area since Potomac Mills first opened its doors back in 1985.
Developed by Bethesda-based Lerner Enterprises and Cigna Investment Management of Hartford, the long-anticipated mall sits in the middle of a 554-acre tract of land at the intersection of Route 7 and 28 in the rapidly growing eastern end of Loudoun County.
"We realized a year ago, the time was right to approach department stores to build the first component of project," said Arthur N. Fuccillo, Lerner's project manager of Dulles Town Center. "We approached a number of major anchor retail stores and they all agreed that time had come for Loudoun County to have a first class, regional mall. And, department stores said (they) really wanted to open in that market."
With business such as America Online, MCI WorldCom and PSI.Net expanding and new office complexes like Loudoun Gateway mushrooming in the area, there has become an ever increasing demand for retail and residential development. Presently, Loudoun County is listed by the U.S. Census Bureau as the third fastest growing county in the nation.
To accommodate business and consumer needs, the Dulles Town Center is due to become a major pit stop hang-out for busy shoppers who in the past have had to travel miles out of their way to find the kind of restaurants and stores they are accustomed to.
Upon completion on August 12, the two-level mall; which is anchored by Hecht's, Lord & Taylor, JCPenny and Sears; will consist of 130 stores , restaurants and entertainment retailers. Among the major retail chain stores are Abercrombie & Fitch, Kay Jewelers, Payless ShoeSource, Ritz Camera, Britches Great Outdoors, Suncoast Motion Picture Co., Foot Locker, Bell Atlantic Mobile, Electronics Boutique, General Nutrition Center and Victoria's Secret. Currently 30 stores are open for business and 70 more will be on board by the mall's official opening in August.
A fifth anchor tenant will be announced this summer, but Fuccillo has confirmed that Lerner has been looking for a high-end tenant and has been talking with both Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom about moving to the Dulles Town Center.
In addition to the retail shops, Lerner, who also serves as the leasing agent, recently signed a lease with Edwards Cinemas, which will incorporate a 106,000-square-foot, 16-screen multiplex movie theater with stadium style seating and digital sound. The theater component is due to open next spring.
"That mall is going to do extremely well, and retailers are bullish on it," said Peter Framson, principal at Trammell Crow. "Eastern Loudoun County has come of age."
What make the mall attractive to both customers and retailers, Framson said, is that Dulles Town Center is located in a great geographic site, with Reston and Herndon to the east, and Leesburg and Winchester to the west.
"Markets that are not served by regional malls today, are going to help carry the day," said Framson. "Leesburg is a distance away, but that population is easily going to travel that direction. And, the people out in Winchester don't have anywhere near the caliber of retail at Cherry Blossom Mall, that you have at Dulles Town Center. So, you are going to have a significant net being dropped on a very wide geographic area."
Future development on the property by Lerner includes 1,100 apartments and townhouses and a 6 million-square-foot office park development. In addition, Fuccillo says that Lerner will break ground this summer on one of two planned Marriott Courtyard Hotels.
"Loudoun County has matured into an area of high demand," said Fuccillo. According to Fuccillo, approximately 100 leases are signed at Dulles Town Center with retail outlets with another 20 currently are in negotiation. When finished, the mall will become the seventh largest in the Washington area. Currently, the 31-year-old Tysons Corner Center, at 1.9 million square feet is the area's biggest.
"We have been hearing for the last 20 years that there was going to be a regional mall here," said Larry Rosenstrauch, director of economic development in Loudoun County. "After about 18 of those years, everybody was saying "yeah, we heard that." Now people can look out and there is not a doubt in anybody's mind that there is going to be a mall. It's just a question of filling it up with tenants."