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Shopping centers across America have been left in a state that is not even Paul Blart could save, and Richmond is no exception.

These abandoned, dilapidated or largely vacant shopping centers, known as “dead malls,” have become a fascinating subject – especially thanks to the online popularity of Aesthetics of the threshold space.

Let’s go to the mall

Regency Square Mall was once in its heyday and featured stores like JC Penney and Thalhimers, as well as a food court that was added in the late 1980s. Photo archives show the mall busy life during the holidays and a parking space full of cars in 1990. However, by 2019 the shopping center remained only JC Penney as anchor.

~10 miles away, Cloverleaf Mall opened in 1972 as the largest indoor shopping center in the area. Locals may remember the 20-foot pool and the various plants that decorate the interior of the mall. After slowly losing tenants and sitting mostly vacant, Cloverleaf officially closed in 200. Demolition of a shopping center from 2011.

A frontal shot of a JC Penney store that spans two levels. The lower level has a perimeter border, but the upper level is open and lit. A person can be seen walking to the left of the store. On the ground floor, there are four empty lounge chairs and a lone plant next to them.

JC Penney at Regency Square Mall, circa 2019.

Photo by Elyse Horvath via Flickr

Back to the Future

Today, the Regency Square Mall still exists, but not as it once was. Plans for redesign the shopping center into a mixed-use space have been in the works for several years, and the shopping center was partially demolished in 2020. Most recently, the redevelopment managers announced a small expansion.

As for Cloverleaf Mall, it was Stonebridge Shopping Centre – a multi-purpose center with Kroger, restaurants and specialty shops.

Although these malls have changed, Richmond still has a number of other thriving malls where you can do like NSYNC and buy, buy, buy:

  • Willow Lawn | This former shopping center is now a sprawling retail and restaurant shopping center. Further mixed-use development is also in the maps.
  • Short Pump Town Center | The outdoor shopping center recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Henrico.
  • Stony Point Fashion Park | The Huguenot shopping center is home to major retailers, local restaurants and a CMX CinéBistro.
  • Chesterfield Towne Center | Pro Tip: A permanent PopUp RVA Marketplace opens August 1st in this Southside mall.

Do you have memories of a local shopping mall from back then? Share it with us and maybe we’ll publish your story in a future newsletter: The first date in the food court, trying on ball gowns in the department store, a trip to Orange Julius and then the perfect printed T-shirt at Hot Topic – we wants to hear everything.