Henrico County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a rezoning request that will allow developers to transform the decades-old Regency mall into an urban town center with up to 1,250 residences.
Although Regency’s owners had said they wanted to save the mall after purchasing it for $13 million in 2015, poor vacancy rates and the steady decline of retail shopping nationwide have led to a change in vision.
With plans to build a NOVA indoor aquatics center and a Surge trampoline park in the former Macy’s South and North buildings, respectively, the mall’s new rezoning — urban mixed-use — will allow The Rebkee Co. and Thalhimer Realty Partners Inc. to build residential housing that had been restricted in the zoning district.
“If you don’t bring rooftops and people to Regency, you’ll never be able to support additional commercial development and you’ll continue to see what you have today,” said Jim Theobald, a lawyer for the developers. In a public hearing and a community meeting earlier this summer, the development team and several nearby residents said they wanted to see the project succeed so that Regency does not fall into obscurity like other aging shopping malls struggling to compete against Amazon and other Online retailers. “If we don’t do something to make the changes that people want to see…shopping centers will just die,” Henrico Supervisor Pat O’Bannon said in an interview before Tuesday’s meeting.