BY MARIA D. JAMES — Between the large construction equipment and huge colorful banners with the words “new” and “coming soon,” it’s hard not to notice that major changes are happening to the Mall at Prince Georges. According to the mall’s owners, these exterior and interior changes are part of a major transformation that’s all driven by the goal to improve the customer shopping experience.
“Our hope is to enhance curb appeal and create a bright, modern, welcoming environment,” said Heather Crowell, senior vice president of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations with Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), the mall’s owners. “We really want to provide shoppers with a modern feel and a completely new experience,” said Crowell.
Related guest post from the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation: Mall at Prince Georges Expands with Biggest Renovation Yet
New Dining & Retailers
In April 2016, the Hyattsville Life & Times (HL&T) reported on breaking news that PREIT, the mall’s owners, announced it would invest $25 million into a major overhaul of the mall. In December 2016, H&M held it’s grand opening. Since then, the mall has welcomed several new stores, including Footaction (Flight 23 and Nike Kicks Lounge), Bath & Body Works/White Barn and Macy’s Backstage. Old Navy has relocated next door to the gym, Planet Fitness, which is also new to the mall. According to a press release issued by the mall’s public relations agency, urban fashion and footwear store DTLR will open at the end of October. Then, in November, Victoria’s Secret/PINK will open. The new store includes the company’s PINK product line that is targeted to young adults and older teenagers. Chelsea’s Beauty Supply is expected to reopen in the fall, as well.
ULTA Beauty and Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) are expected to open in April 2018. A buildout for both stores is currently underway inside Old Navy’s old space.
During the renovation, a few stores have a new home. Lane Bryant has moved next to Payless Shoes, and Rainbow is now next to 5th Avenue Beauty Supply. Visitor may find the new store locations on the mall’s directory of stores online.
New dining options are also coming to the mall. Charley’s Philly Cheesesteaks opened inside the mall during the summer. Outside the mall, three new walk-up restaurants are expected to open around the first of November: Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, Chipolte Mexican Grill and Five Guys Burgers & Fries.
PREIT’s Crowell confirmed that negotiations are still underway for a new family dining restaurant, which is expected to be built near retailer T.J.Maxx. As of press time, PREIT was unable to disclose the name of the new restaurant.
The mall’s long-time marketing director, Victoria Clark, provided an update on renovations to the food court. “Starting the first week of November, if you go into the food court you’ll notice new furniture. If you look up, you’ll also notice changes overhead that will bring in more natural light,” said Clark. The new furniture will include high-top tables and built-in electrical sockets that can be used for cell phone charging.
In late August, retailer Macy’s hosted a grand opening for its new offering, Macy’s Backstage outlet on the second level. This is Macy’s third outlet to open in the D.C. area.
“Macy’s Backstage is a new experience for our customer who enjoys the thrill of the hunt providing fashion and brands at a great value,” said Tim Baxter, Macy’s chief merchandising officer, in a press release.
Macy’s store manager, Shanika Weakly, said Macy’s Backstage is the retailer’s response to the growing trend of customers seeking off-price shopping. “You have a T.J.Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls, who took over on the off-price offerings, so we had to join the fun,” said Weakly. “We receive the latest and greatest in-season, which is different from other stores.”
New Look & Branding
New retailers and dining options aren’t the only things shoppers have noticed at the mall. Another big difference is that the mall’s exterior is natural wood, rather than stone. According to Crowell, updating the look of the exterior and entrances was important to changing the image of the mall.
Then there is the shift from using the name Mall at Prince Georges to the shorter acronym, MPG. “When we first purchased the mall we changed the name from Prince George’s Plaza to the Mall at Prince Georges; now we’re hoping the community will embrace MPG,” said Crowell.
Crowell said that PREIT and mall developers are working closely with the city to listen to what the community wants. The new branding, retailers and renovations are all changes PREIT are introducing to improve the customer experience.
Clark added that a post on the mall’s Facebook page invited the community to provide input on what they would like to see at the mall. Including a Trader Joe’s was one popular request.
With new stores and dining options comes an increase in patrons and concerns around parking. Clark emphasized the mall is ready for the increase, and has been working to decrease the number of riders who park at the mall to ride Metro.
For Clark, who this year celebrates 10 years employed at the mall, being a part of the planning and watching the renovations unfold is exciting. “There is talk of sidewalk seating for the restaurants. … We’re looking at introducing a totally new experience. I am really thrilled to see the changes.”