Lynchburg business owners discuss new look, future of River Ridge Mall

River Ridge Mall officials updated business owners on what and who’s to come in the coming years

LYNCHBURG, Va. – In a few years, River Ridge Mall leaders are hoping to make the mall’s east end look like a big parking field with mixed use retail stores.

“What I saw in the renderings is more of an open space, a little bit more of a town center, where you don’t feel like you have to enter a door and be inside the whole time,” Mark Smith, owner of Architectural Partners, said.

Smith and other business owners in the Lynchburg area were shown new renderings at a Lynchburg Business Alliance meeting on Wednesday morning.

Smith openly admitted he had not been to the mall in more than five years as it has lost its appeal.

“It’s been since Sears left because I like Craftsman tools,” Smith said.

Liberty University’s Vice President of Real Estate Craig Pettitt wants to help bring that appeal back.

“It confirms my belief that there is commitment to the mall, to coming back. Five plus years that (Smith) hasn’t been to the mall, but I’ve heard that a lot,” Pettitt said.

Pettitt has kept his word so far.

First phase renovations for the mall’s center court should be finished by Thanksgiving.

“The amphitheater is almost finished and we’re very soon to announcing the bistro, local restaurant, that is going to be anchored on the backside of that theater,” Pettitt said.

Smaller changes have already been made inside, like new bathrooms.

But the biggest talk and mystery will be the huge sporting store that will be announced soon.

Smith said, that’s one way to get him back in after five years.

“(If) they got fishing poles and canoes and that type of thing,” Smith said. “Oh yeah, I’ll be there for that.”

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