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J.C. Penney store at Virginia Center Commons sells for $3 million; apartments planned for the site
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J.C. Penney store at Virginia Center Commons sells for $3 million; apartments planned for the site

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Penney store at Virginia Center Commons

The J.C. Penney store and land at Virginia Center Commons — which total 7.67 acres — were sold for $3 million. The mall’s owners are considering razing the store to make way for 250 to 400 apartments.

The J.C. Penney store at Virginia Center Commons mall in northern Henrico County was acquired Monday by the mall’s owners.

Entities controlled by Richmond-based The Rebkee Co. and Chester-based Shamin Hotels, which bought most of the mall’s property in January 2020, paid $3 million for the store and surrounding property, said Rob Hargett, a co-founder and principal of The Rebkee Co., a development company.

The sale includes the 97,000-square-foot Penney store and the 7.67 acres that the store and parking lot sit on, he said.

The Penney’s building and land is assessed for $1.58 million, according to the county’s online property records.

Penney’s, which has operated at the mall since the summer of 1994, remains open for the time being. But the chain has a contract with the mall’s owners to lease the building until May 31, Hargett said.

He understands Penney plans to close the store by then, if not sooner. A Penney spokeswoman said the chain didn’t have any information to share at this time.

The mall’s owners are considering tearing down the Penney store to make way for between 250 and 400 apartments, Hargett said. “We hope to make a zoning submission [to the county] sometime in February to get some multifamily there. It is part of our over-arching plan to get some zoning for that.”

Buying the Penney store gives the mall’s owners control over nearly all of Virginia Center Commons’ property, Hargett said.

Entities tied to The Rebkee Co. and Shamin Hotels bought most of the enclosed Virginia Center Commons mall and the former Sears and Macy’s buildings for a total of $12.8 million a year ago as part of plans to redevelop the aging enclosed shopping center.

That purchase did not include the Penney store nor the building housing American Family Fitness. An entity tied to Kohan Retail Investment Group, the mall’s former owner, retained ownership of the American Family Fitness building and is operating under a 10-year lease.

The mall’s owners also sold 24.75 acres for $8.3 million to Henrico for a planned sports and event complex. Demolition of the former Macy’s building there began this month, and contractors will soon start tearing down the former Sears store and part of the mall to make way for the new event complex.

Construction on the new complex — which will have at least 4,500 seats and 12 basketball courts — should begin in July and take about 16 months to complete, Hargett said.

Virginia Center Commons mall, located between Brook Road and Interstate 95 in northern Henrico about a couple of miles north of Interstate 295, opened in 1991. Like many indoor enclosed malls of that era, it continues to face tough times as consumer shopping habits and preferences shift.

This is the second Penney store to be sold in the Richmond area.

The owners of Regency mall — Thalhimer Realty Partners and The Rebkee Co. — acquired the 170,000-square-foot store, which was built in 1976, and the 6.91 acres that the store and parking lot sit on for $3.1 million in November. That store is now closed.

The Plano, Texas-based Penney filed for bankruptcy protection in May and emerged from the court’s protection in December. The retailer had said last year that it planned to permanently close nearly a third of its 846 stores in the next two years.

Penney’s has not made any announcements about its other Richmond-area locations in Chesterfield Towne Center, Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights and the White Oak Village shopping center in eastern Henrico.

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