By Rachael Smith
Demolition of the 120,000-square-foot former Sears building at River Ridge mall began Tuesday and is expected to continue during the next three to four weeks.
The demolition will make way for a new big-box sporting goods retailer. The company’s name has not been announced, but officials said it should be as soon as a lease is signed.
Katie Farris, marketing manager of the mall, said the rest of the east end of the mall, where Sears formerly was located, will feature a number of big-box tenants in the future, including home and cosmetic retailers.
Inside and outside the mall, construction barricades have been put up to keep mall-goers safe and aware of the demolition.
Farris said there is signage to show drivers where they can and cannot park.
She said workers do not know how loud construction will be until they get further into the work, but there are a few plans in place to mitigate the noise as much as possible.
Sears closed in 2013, at which point Liberty University purchased the building to be used for LU Online as well as other offices for the school. LU Online began moving out of the building last month and now is located off Nationwide Drive.
Mall officials are working toward a conceptual plan to redevelop the food court into what they call a “food hall” which will have a new look and feel, Farris said. It will include new floors, restaurants and a video wall.
She said renovations of the “Great Space” near American Eagle Outfitters and SeaQuest will be complete by Thanksgiving and will include a large Christmas tree, holiday events and a local bistro, which will sell food as well as beer and wine.
Farris said she hopes the name of that bistro will be released soon.
She added the success of SeaQuest since opening last month has been phenomenal.
“SeaQuest is typically located in larger markets across the United States like Vegas and Denver but here in Lynchburg, SeaQuest is actually beating out those numbers in those larger markets,” she said.
She said SeaQuest in Lynchburg is bringing in 12,000 families per month and has created jobs in the community.
“We’re surprised every day, especially when school is out when we see lines of families and children waiting to get into SeaQuest,” she said.
Farris said the mall redevelopment has four phases, which will take place over the next few years and will finish with the former Macy’s building being converted into a lifestyle center with a park that will host free movie nights, summer concerts and farmers markets.
Reach Photos: Demolition work begins at River Ridge mall
Rachael Smith at (434) 385-5482.
Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.
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