Open Sesame

Open Sesame

All-new Springfield Town Center holds grand opening.

A crowd gathered for the Oct. 17 grand opening of the all-new Springfield Town Center.

A crowd gathered for the Oct. 17 grand opening of the all-new Springfield Town Center. Photo by Tim Peterson.

Eileen Crisson ran a jewelry store on the lower level of the old Springfield Mall for 17 years, up until everything but the large anchor shops closed. On Oct. 17, the longtime Springfield resident was back for the grand opening of the rejuvenated Springfield Town Center with a sleek white cart full of Navajo Native American-made bracelets, necklaces, rings and dreamcatchers.

“I’m glad to see this come alive,” said Crisson, whose son Todd now works around the corner as a managing partner of Maggiano’s. “It’s a great layout, more upscale. I’m thrilled to be home and have him here too.”

A crowd had gathered well before the ribbon-cutting on the crisp and brilliantly sunny Friday morning. They restlessly sat through remarks from Vornado president Mitchell Schear, Lee district supervisor Jeff McKay and Town Center general manager Eric Christensen. People were there to shop.

“We knew that with a significant investment and fresh new design, we would attract right here to Springfield the world’s best names in retail, dining, entertainment and fashion,” said Schear. “Today that vision has become a reality. It's been a long journey. We navigated the public approval process then we embarked on a great transformation.”

A three-year construction process brought the old mall down to bare concrete and steel before rebuilding every surface, with special attention paid to security, lighting and walkway flow.

“When it was old, I was scared to come here,” said Angela Kim of Fairfax. “Now it’s much different.”

The redesign is part of a 10-15-year, multi-phase redevelopment plan for the area that includes residential and office space.

“We know this is a cornerstone of civic pride for south county,” said McKay. “We're darn proud of this new Springfield Town Center, and we know this is the beginning.”

The hope is that by bringing in more upscale retailers and restaurants like Michael Kors, Topshop, Maggiano’s Little Italy, as well as an in-house LA Fitness (complete with swimming pool) and 12-screen luxury movie theater (reclining seats, anyone?), the 1,300,000 square foot center will attract a similarly upscale clientele.

Lorraine Tran of Springfield was impressed, so far. “It’s really nice,” she said. “It’s kind of like Tysons. I think they made good choices.”

Carlos Garcia and his wife Karyssa of Springfield took pictures with their children and the abstract costumed characters roaming near the Maggiano’s entrance.

“We wanted to try something different with the kids,” said Garcia. “My wife wanted to come for Forever 21. We don’t know where we’re going to eat yet; we’ll wait until we walk by the restaurants.”