Virginia Beach Boulevard / US 58 and Independence Boulevard
Virginia Beach, Virginia

On March 9, 1965, construction commenced on the first interior mall in Virginia's Hampton Roads region. The shopping center, to be known as PEMBROKE MALL, was developed by Fred and Richard Olivieri, under the auspices of Pembroke Square Associates. The complex was built on a 51.2 acre site, that was previously occupied by the circa-1764 Pembroke Manor House.

The "independent city" of Virginia Beach had been formed from the amalgamation of a small resort town and the previously-existing Princess Anne County. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, an "independent city" is a separate and complete political entity and is not part of any county.

The first business to open in PEMBROKE MALL was a 1-level (88,400 square foot), Richmond-based Miller & Rhoads. This store was dedicated March 3, 1966.

At the mall's official grand opening, held March 21, 1966, fourteen tenants began business. These included Thom McAn Shoes, Butler's Shoes, National Shirt Shops, Barricini Candy, Beneficial Finance, Peoples Drug and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

A 2-level (157,700 square foot) Sears was dedicated July 27, 1966. By this time, mall stores included Willner's, Hofheimer's Shoes, Lerner Shops, Fine's Men's Shop, The Hub, Clayton's, Mr. John's Beauty Salon, Norfolk Federal Savings & Loan Association, Pembroke Florist, Spencer Gifts and a Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shoppe. PEMBROKE MALL now encompassed 564,900 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of sixty-five stores and services.

In 1971, the ABC Southeastern Theatres Pembroke Mall Theatre opened for business. It was built as a freestanding structure, in the shopping center's northeast parking area.

An open-air Northeast Wing was expanded, with a seven-store enclosed mallway, in 1981. A 1-level (56,200 square foot), Virginia Beach-based Rices-Nachmans was built. The mall's south-facing front was also extended outward with fifteen inline stores. These included Annabelle's Restaurant, Radio Shack, World Bazaar, Pizza Delight and Office Supply. PEMBROKE MALL now encompassed 713,600 leasable square feet.

A third expansion, completed in 1988, added the Cineplex Odeon Pembroke 8 to the Northeast Wing. The original Pembroke Mall Theatre was demolished. The GLA of the mall was increased to approximately 747,800 square feet.

Shopping centers in the PEMBROKE MALL trade area included MILITARY CIRCLE MALL (1970) {3.7 miles west, in Norfolk}, LYNNHAVEN MALL (1981) {3.7 miles southeast, in Virginia Beach} and GREENBRIER MALL (1982) {6.7 miles southwest, in Chesapeake}.

Rices-Nachmans became the first PEMBROKE MALL anchor to change nameplates. The store was converted to an Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Hess's on February 25, 1985. Alcoa, Tennessee-based Proffitt's rebranded the store August 23, 1993. Dillard's went into the space in August 1997 and closed in July 2002. For a short time afterward, the building was leased as a Freight Liquidators Furniture Outlet.

Miller & Rhoads, the mall's east anchor, was shuttered in January 1990. The space was soon taken by Norcross, Georgia-based Uptons. This chain folded in November 1999. The building sat vacant until Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based Kohl's remodeled the structure and opened a store October 5, 2003.

By this time, PEMBROKE MALL was being given a major overhaul and new marketing focus. Over the years, the complex had declined from a regional-class shopping venue into a community-type center, tenanted by mom & pop-type retailers. The makeover consisted of an interior face lift. New carpeting and ceilings were installed throughout the complex, with a 6-bay Food Court built the South Wing.

The mall's exterior became more "pedestrian friendly". Front-facing stores were refitted with exterior entrances and new facades and three outparcel restaurants were built in the parking area. These improvements were tied in with the New Urbanist TOWN CENTER project across the boulevard; its first phase being dedicated in 2003.

The final phase of the metamorphosis at PEMBROKE MALL, undertaken in the fall of 2006, involved the demolition of the Rices-Nachman's building and most of the Northeast Wing. The multiplex movie house, now operating as the Regal Pembroke 8, was left standing, at least for the time being.

The physical size of the mall had been reduced to approximately 654,000 leasable square feet, with a compliment of one hundred stores and services. As part of a repositioning, PEMBROKE MALL was tenanted with more nationally-known retailers, such as Pacsun and Hot Topic.

The mall's Regal 8-plex showed its final features July 4, 2011. It was demolished, with a 1-level (138,500 square foot) Target built on its space. The new store opened for business October 14, 2012.

The Food Court had closed for good in June. Eateries such as Subway, Big Island Smoothie Cafe and Quesadillas & More were relocated within the shopping hub. The entire South Wing was then gutted and refashioned into "Signature Shops", which encompassed seven store spaces.

Old Navy opened for business in April 2013, followed by Bahama Breeze Island Grill and Coastal Edge apparel. The existing mall was also given a facelift, with surfaces repainted and new carpeting installed. The existing Kohl's store was renovated, as well. PEMBROKE MALL now encompassed approximately 652,100 leasable square feet.

In April 2015, Sears Holdings announced the formation of a new real estate investment trust, known as Seritage Growth Properties. One of the first projects undertaken by the new entity was the redevelopment of the PEMBROKE MALL Sears.

The first floor of the store was divided four ways. Sears retained 48,500 square feet. A (32,500 square foot) Nordstrom Rack opened March 9, 2016. The (27,000 square foot) Fresh Market was dedicated March 30, 2016. A (15,300 square foot) DSW began business May 1, 2016. The total area of the reconfigured (but still 2-level) Sears was now 127,300 square feet.


The Virginian Pilot
"Virginia Beach" article on Wikipedia
"Town Center" article on Wikipedia