Hilltop Mall to transform into shopping and entertainment venue

- The downward spiral of the Hilltop Mall has been a slow death for the city of Richmond.

At its best, 40 years ago, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt says it was so successful it took business away from the downtown area's economy.

Over the last seven years, the disappearance of anchor stores like JC Penny's, the nearly empty parking lots and old 80's facade was enough reason for shoppers to spend their money elsewhere.

"They were in over their head. They owed more money than they could pay based on the business model they were running there so it went into bankruptcy. It went into receivership," said Mayor Butt.

They mayor says the property's semi-abandoned appearance attracted the wrong kind of shoppers.

According to Richmond Police's crime mapping data, there have been 35 car break-ins reported to police in the last five months, with six cases reported this month alone.

Safety and security is a top priority though for the new and improved Hilltop Mall.

"We're going to be replacing the security infrastructure system at that mall with a state of the art 128 camera system," said Doug Beiswenger, LBG Real Estate Company's managing partner. 

LBG Real Estate Company has already purchased the property and has plans to pour tens of millions of dollars into renovations for the interior and exterior of the mall.

Renderings provided by the company of what the finished product might look like, shows a mall complete with a movie theater, live theater, grocery store and dozens of restaurants.

"We're starting an aggressive improvement program in the next 30 days at the property starting with the parking lots and working our way in," said Beiswenger.

Unlike the history of the Hilltop mall, this project is on the fast track, set to be unveiled to the community within 18 months.

Right now LBG is negotiating with restaurants and other future tenants. They will continue finalizing the plans, then comes bidding and construction.

After the mall project is complete, LBG says they'll begin phase two which includes building new housing development around the mall.

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