LANDMARK CENTER
Duke and Van Dorn Streets
Alexandria, Virginia

Plans for Washington, DC's sixth shopping mall were announced in September 1963. An 82 acre tract, located 10 miles southwest of the United States Capitol, had been acquired. The mall site, located in the independent city of Alexandria, was adjacent to the Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway. Noteworthy as the first limited-access thoroughfare in the state, it was opened to traffic between 1943 and 1952.

LANDMARK CENTER was designed by New York City's Abbot & Merkt Company and dedicated August 4, 1965. Officiating at the grand opening was Lieutenant Governor Mills. E. Godwin, Jr. (D). The 675,000 square foot, open-air complex was situated with a main retail level and service basement. It was the region's first three-anchor shopping venue.

The original anchor department stores were a 2-level (150,000 square foot), Arlington, Virginia-based Hecht's and 2-level (236,000 square foot) Sears. A 3-level (140,000 square foot), Washington-based Woodward & Lothrop opened for business October 11, 1965.

Among the thirty-two charter tenants were Peoples Drug, Bond Clothes, Steven Windsor Fashions, Raleigh Haberdashery, Waldenbooks, Casual Corner and an S & W Cafeteria.

Shopping hubs in the LANDMARK CENTER trade area were many. Early on, there was SEVEN CORNERS CENTER (1956) {4 miles southeast, in Fairfax County, Virginia}. This was joined by TYSONS CORNER CENTER (1968) {8.2 miles northwest, in Fairfax County, Virginia} and SPRINGFIELD MALL (1972) {3.4 miles southwest, also in Fairfax County, Virginia}.

The 1980s and '90s brought FAIR OAKS MALL (1980) {12.4 miles northwest, in Fairfax County, Virginia}, BALLSTON COMMON MALL (1986) [a rebuild of PARKINGTON SHOPPING CENTER] {4.3 miles northeast, in Arlington County, Virginia} and FASHION CENTER AT PENTAGON CITY (1989) {4.7 miles northeast, also in Arlington County}.

A prospective LANDMARK CENTER renovation was announced in 1977, with its price estimated at 13 million dollars. The project was to include enclosure of the mallway and entries, addition of twenty-nine inline shops, expansion of existing Hecht's and Woodward & Lothrop stores and construction of a multilevel parking garage.

It would be 10 years before construction would get underway on an amended redevelopment. Demolition commenced on the entire open-air mall structure, leaving only the three anchors standing. The north parking area was also excavated, bringing it down to the basement level of the original mall.

The shopping center was rebuilt as a fully-enclosed, 3-level complex, encompassing 880,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and twenty stores and services. Woodward & Lothrop had been expanded to 151,000 square feet, Hecht's to 163,000.

The new, 140 million dollar, LANDMARK MALL was dedicated in November 1989. A multilevel garage now filled its north parking area. The reconfigured complex housed tenants such as Lechters Housewares, American Eagle Outfitters and Eddie Bauer. A partial third level featured a 14-bay Food Court.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties acquired the holdings of US Prime Property in June 1998, as part of a GGP / Ivanhoe joint venture. Included in the six-unit Prime Property portfolio was LANDMARK MALL.

Woodward & Lothrop had been the first rebranded anchor store at the retail hub. The store, shuttered in November 1995, re-opened as a J.C. Penney in July 1996. This operation lasted until April 2000, with Lord & Taylor moving into the space late in 2001.

By this time, LANDMARK MALL was in decline. Several factors were involved, such as road construction in the area and the proliferation of crime at the shopping center. Commercial competition also came from POTOMAC YARD CENTER (1997) {4.5 miles northeast, in Alexandria} and MARKET COMMON AT CLARENDON (2001) {5.3 miles northeast, in Arlington}.

Little by little, upscale stores at LANDMARK MALL had closed, being replaced by no-name, mom & pop operations or vacant store space. On September 9, 2006, Hecht's was "Macy-ated". Lord & Taylor closed July 12, 2009.

In an attempt to reinvent the struggling shopping center, GGP had  announced a major redevelopment in 2004. The 15-year-old mall structure was to be demolished, again leaving its three anchors. The replacement would be a town center-type, mixed-use development, tentatively referred to as LANDMARK VILLAGE.

This project never got off the ground. A revamped plan, for a WEST END TOWN CENTER complex, had evolved by 2008. This was thwarted by GGP's bout with bankruptcy, that played out between late 2008 and mid-2010.

As a result of a corporate reorganization, the LANDMARK MALL property became a holding of the Howard Hughes Corporation, a real estate development arm of GGP. They proposed a third redevelopment scenario that would raze the mall structure and Woodward & Lothrop building.

Sears and Macy's would remain as is. They would anchor an open-air "mixed-use environment", known simply as LANDMARK. This open-air complex would include 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, four hundred apartment units (on levels above the stores) and a state-of-the-art, 10-screen megaplex cinema.

Work was to commence on the moribund mall's redevelopment in the spring of 2014. This date was pushed back to late 2014, early 2016, late 2016...and then sometime in 2017. The mall's twenty-four remaining inline stores were given eviction notices, effective January 31, 2017.

Macy's closed for good in March 2017. This left only Sears in operation. As of late 2017, no timetable for the remaining mall's demolition had been announced.

Sources:

"Landmark Mall" article in Wikipedia
"Shirley Memorial Highway" article on Wikipedia
www.labelscar.com / Article posted by Caldor / Comment posts by "Mallguy", Rich, David, Johnny, "C.H." and "M.C."
 http://www.howardhughes.com (Howard Hughes Corporation)


FAIR USE OF LANDMARK CENTER IMAGES:

The photos from the Northern Virginia Digital History Archive illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the images in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.