SEVEN CORNERS CENTER
Arlington Boulevard / US 50 and Leesburg Pike
Fairfax County, Virginia

Construction commenced on Washington, DC's first suburban shopping mall in June 1955. It was built on a 32 acre tract, located 6 miles southwest of the United States Capitol, in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The area was named for its junction of five roads; Arlington Boulevard, Leesburg Pike, Wilson Boulevard, Sleepy Hollow Road and Hillwood Avenue. These merge at a point northwest of the shopping center tract and form "Seven Corners".

SEVEN CORNERS CENTER was designed and developed by DC-based Kass-Berger Incorporated. The first three tenants to open for business held grand openings on September 20, 1956. These stores were Joseph R. Harris, Franklin Simon and a 4-level (128,000 square foot) Woodward & Lothrop ["Low-thrup"].

The second anchor store, a 3-level (71,000 square foot) Julius Garfinckel & Company, was dedicated, along with the rest of the 25 million dollar mall, on October 4, 1956.

Open-air in format, the split-level shopping hub consisted of two covered mallways; one accessed from the southern (upper level) parking area, the second from the northern (lower level) lot. Beneath lower level stores was a basement, which connected with two service tunnels.

Inline stores in the 600,000 square foot complex included L. Frank Company, Peck & Peck, Chandler's Shoes, Raleigh's and Mayer & Company Furniture. The F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and Peoples Drug stores had 2 levels. Woolworth's had an escalator between its floors; the levels of Peoples Drug were connected via a staircase.

An auto center and Fairfax County National Bank main office were outparcels of the mall proper. In addition, there was a freestanding Food Lane supermarket. Operated as a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Food Fair, the (32,000 square foot) store opened November 28, 1956 and was rebranded as a Food Fair September 15, 1960.

SEVEN CORNERS CENTER was the preeminent shopping destination in northern Virginia until the malling of the area gained impetus in the 1960s. Alexandria's LANDMARK CENTER {4 miles southeast, in Alexandria} was dedicated in 1965. TYSONS CORNER CENTER {5 miles northwest, in Fairfax County} opened in 1968.

In order to compete, SEVEN CORNERS CENTER was enclosed in 1977. This was done by sealing its open mallways with steel and glass structures. As this was being done, the malling of Washington and its environs continued unabated. By 1988, there were twenty regional shopping venues in the SEVEN CORNERS trade area.

The days of SEVEN CORNERS CENTER as a major shopping center were coming to an end. This was exacerbated by the closing of its Garfinckel's, in June 1990. The building was leased to F & M Distributors, a discount drug store.

A prospective renovation of the property had been on the drawing board for some years. Phase I of the project got underway in the mid-1990s, under the auspices of Chevy Chase, Maryland-based Saul Centers. Smaller inline tenants were moved to an adjacent strip center in June 1995 and the existing mall, excluding Woodward & Lothrop, was given a major makeover. The steel and glass enclosures were removed and the structure returned to an open-air format.

Woodward & Lothrop shut down in November 1995. Its building was demolished in October 1996. By this time, new Phase I stores had opened. These included Barnes & Noble, Ross Dress For Less, Best Buy and Bob's Store, a Connecticut-based discount apparel retailer. Two outparcel restaurants, Wendy's and Pizza Uno, opened for business in March and September 1996.

Phase II of the renovation involved the construction of a vertically-stacked (72,300 square foot) Shopper's Club Food & Pharmacy and (124,400 square foot) Home Depot. These were built on the old Woodward & Lothrop spot and completed in late 1997. A multilevel parking garage had been constructed, as well. With the dedication of these structures, the renewed SEVEN CORNERS CENTER encompassed 561,000 leasable square feet on 3 levels.

Over the ensuing years, tenants came and went. Bob's Store and Woolworth's closed in the summer of 1997. Best Buy shut down in 2003. New Jersey's Syms apparel was in operation between August 2009 and December 2011. The Texas-based RoomStore, a home furnishings retailer, was shuttered in October 2011. A (47,300 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory opened its doors in November 2012.

Home Depot expanded into a 55,000 square foot space, which had been occupied by CVS Drug. The new section opened in the fall of 2014. The SEVEN CORNERS CENTER Home Depot now encompassed 180,400 square feet.

Sources:

The Washington Post
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Comment by "CJ"
www.fccc.org / Fairfax County Chamber Of Commerce website
www.saulcenters.com