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Henrico County Asks Citizens to Help Redesign Local Mall

Crowd of people sitting in chairs facing a projector screen
Henrico residents participated in a series of public design meetings, held by county planners seeking to revitalize a local mall. (Photo: Charles Fishburne/VPM)

Henrico County held a public meeting last night to talk about the future of Virginia Center Commons, a failing mall about to get a makeover.

Surrounded by shuttered stores, Mario Barreno was making fruit smoothies for the handful of customers he expected. But, he said recent events have left him feeling encouraged.

"Right now, we are very happy because we feel the new owner, working with Henrico County, is making a lot [of progress], and we hope everything [will] be good," Barreno said.

Across the food court, Henrico was hosting a design charrette, or planning meeting, about the future of the site. One participant said she just doesn't come to the mall anymore, and others spoke to what they'd like to see: "Restaurants, some activities."

Participants were invited to draw on maps and flesh out their ideas. Henrico County Planner Ben Sehl said the goal was joint ownership. "We want everybody to be part of the owner of the plan," Sehl said.

The public private partnership behind the makeover envisions adding a hotel, entertainment, retail and a sports complex to the site.

Open design meetings are being held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday, participant ideas will be released as a summary at 6 p.m.

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