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by Jason Jacks
FairfaxTimes.com

Big plans are in store for this weathered box of a mall surrounded by parking lots, noisy highways and graying office buildings.

For starters, the phrase “make it more walkable” has been thrown around; so has “turn it into a urban community.” There is also talk of adding thousands of homes and millions of square feet of retail and office space.

Stop! Before you venture a guess, this is not Tysons Corner Center. But it is another of Fairfax County’s retail dinosaurs: Springfield Mall.

“I think Springfield is going to be the place where people will want to live,” said Springfield Civic Association President Tawny Hammond. “For those of us sticking it out, we will be sitting on a gold mine in 10 or 20 years.”

Much like the sweeping plans in store for Tysons Corner that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors poured over recently, supervisors in the next few months will take up plans to transform beleaguered Springfield Mall and its surrounding property from a sprawling suburb of strip malls and unfriendly intersections into a dynamic downtown-type neighborhood.

Vornado Realty Trust, which bought the 35-year-old mall in 2006, plans to convert the building from a traditional big box that is closed in over an assortment of shops and restaurants, into one that brings the outside in.

Shops will face outward. Large windows will bring more light inside. Meanwhile, outside will be dotted with courtyards and small parks connected by wide walking and biking trails.

Later plans also include 2,200 homes, 1.1 million square feet of office space, a new multi-screen movie theater and a 225-room hotel above 130,000-square-feet of retail space.

To top it off, the mall area will be given a new moniker: Springfield Town Center. Work could begin in earnest by next summer.

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