This Friday, Sept. 30, Tysons Corner will unveil its long-awaited expansion wing. The 362,000-square-foot wing, part of which was formerly J.C. Penny, will include a 16-screen AMC megaplex theater with stadium seating, five restaurants, a 10-unit food court, a two-level Barnes & Noble bookstore and 20 specialty retailers.
According to Kathy Hannon, senior property manager for Tysons Corner, the choice to expand was a logical one.
"Tysons has always been very prosperous and very big, but we've always had a wait list for retailers," she said. "J.C. Penny was an underperforming anchor, so this was a good opportunity to put in an entertainment anchor."
Eric Kulczycky, director of marketing for Tysons Corner, says that company research consistently showed that consumers were interested in seeing more entertainment options at the mall.
"Movie theaters were at the top of the list, and so were restaurants," he said. "We think people are going to stay here longer and shop here longer."
The new AMC movie complex will be the first time the mall has had a theater complex since Sony Theatres closed in 1997. Two of the screens in the new complex are designed for premieres and seat 500 people. The remainder of the screens range in size from 100-250 seats. All screens feature comfortable, stadium seating and digital sound.
The new wing is largely concentrated on the needs and interests of the teen demographic, as Hannon says they make up a huge market for Tysons Corner.
"Teen retail is very big right now," she said.
Hannon added that in the retail assessment of Tysons I, it was discovered that there was a lack of furniture stores. Subsequently, an effort was made to add more furniture merchants. Arlington resident Shannon Gray is particularly excited about West Elm.
"I was hoping West Elm would come to the new wing," said Gray. "I love it, and I just moved so I can't wait."
West Elm is a modern home furnishings brand under Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
"This is our first retail store in the area," said Sonia Taylor, Public Relations Manager for West Elm. "It's done so well in the last year or two that it really has the potential for being the largest brand for the company as a whole."
In addition to West Elm, Z Gallerie and Arhaus Furniture will also be in the new wing.
"We only had Domain and Bombay [Company] at Tysons, but they were both doing well," said Hannon.
A two-story Barnes & Noble bookstore will serve as one of the anchors of the new wing.
"This store will be one of the larger [Barnes & Noble bookstores] in the D.C. market," said store manager Steve Marshall.
According to Marshall, the store will feature Barnes & Noble's advanced technology music listening stations which will feature sampling of up to 200,000 music titles. Additionally, the store will feature Wi-Fi service throughout the entire facility.
"This will make it great for anyone — students, business persons — to bring their computers in and work in any part of the store," said Marshall.
Marshall is also enthusiastic about the store's substantial children's department.
"We're going to have one of the largest children's departments of any of the stores in our area. It's going to have 15,000 titles, and it is very spacious so it will be easy to hang out with the kids," he said.
The third level of the Tysons expansion wing will also be child-friendly and feature a 1,990-square-foot literacy-themed play area.
"We actually have a mascot that we are going to be launching," said Hannon.
Children will have a chance to meet the mascot, Oliver Owl, on Saturday, Oct. 1 in the play area.