Pembroke Mall to undergo $200 million renovation; interior stores left scrambling for storefronts

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Posted at 2:24 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 17:29:21-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - For years, the trend for retail has been moving online, leaving big box stores and mom-and-pop small businesses alike competing with online giants.

That's just one factor as to why a nearly six-decade-old mall in Virginia Beach will soon be demolished and redeveloped.

"It is the natural evolution of retail," said Ramsay Smith, the president of Pembroke Realty, which owns the Pembroke Mall.

But for the majority of the 40 small stores inside the mall, their owners are scrambling, trying to figure out where they will set up shop. It's an added stressor right before the holiday season.

Step into A Bit of England, located inside Pembroke Mall, and it's more like a bit of nostalgia.

"We carry all the games you don’t have to plug in or download, like darts, pool, chess, poker, role-playing games and card games," said owner Chris Sizemore.

The shop was started by Sizemore's grandparents 41 years ago.

"We have been here so long, people know us as 'that dart place in Pembroke,' or 'that chess place in Pembroke,' or 'that pool place in Pembroke,'" he said.

But in a matter of days, Sizemore will be swiftly packing up his ornate chess pieces, darts and pool sticks.

"They said, 'You are not gonna have a home here after the 31st; you've gotta get out,'" Sizemore said.

That's because the mall will soon undergo a makeover.

"Traditional mall settings are not the trend anymore, so we are going to add mixed-use, senior living and multifamily housing, and we are adding a hotel," Smith said.

It's a $200 million futuristic facelift that's keeping up with the times, according to Smith.

"We want to create something our community can be proud of that is exciting," Smith said.

Smith says the plans have been in the works for a decade. However, tenants like Sizemore say they didn't get the memo until three weeks ago.

"There is no going out of business sale, no moving sale. How do we let our product dwindle down?" Sizemore said.

Sizemore says the move will cost him a month of revenue and a loss of gift card use after the holidays.

"We just wish the timing was a little different," he said.

A Bit of England should be moving to the Timberlake Shopping center just a few miles away. The mall's exterior stores, like Target and Old Navy, will not be impacted.

The $200 million renovations of the mall will begin this spring. The renovation will also include an area for events and greenspace.