New look for Richmond Plaza

Architectural rendering Subtle color changes and a major facelift are in the works for Tri-City, Inc.’s Richmond Plaza Shopping Center. MLD Architecture from the Charlotte area prepared renderings based on discussions with Tri City.

Architectural rendering This view shows the JC Penney side of the plaza. Neil Robinette hopes these changes will attract more vendors to lease space in the shopping center and said serious talks are in progress with some “highly recognizable” store brands and restaurants that could make Richmond Plaza a regional fashion destination.

ROCKINGHAM — Imagine a Richmond Plaza Shopping Center redesigned and filled with new vendors alongside the old favorites, but brands “you wouldn’t normally expect to see in Rockingham.”

Tri-City Inc. is giving the nearly 50-year-old shopping center a $2.5 million to $3.5 million makeover and plans to add new retailers and restaurants that will draw shoppers from Richmond and surrounding counties to the East Broad Avenue development.

Tri-City CEO Neil Robinette and his sister Gabrielle Goodwin, leasing and tenant relations manager for Richmond Plaza, are excited about the changes that will begin this summer and continue through the end of 2016.

“We’re doing a renovation project on the shopping center to solidify our strong relationships with current tenants and to attract new brands as well,” Robinette said. “Here we have locally owned businesses and branded stores. While Belk and JC Penney are national companies, they are local companies as far as being here is concerned. They provide jobs for local people.”

Robinette showed off renderings of what the redesigned shopping center will look like. He emphasized that renovations beginning this summer will still be taking place during this year’s holiday shopping season, but said the work would not interfere in any way with shopping at any existing stores in Richmond Plaza.

“When you see this, it reminds you of Pinecrest Plaza in Southern Pines,” he said. “That was by design. We are using the same architect Pinecrest used — MLD Architecture out of Charlotte.”

The project includes color changes, brighter and more efficient LED lighting, uniform facades and eye-catching signs as well as adjustments to improve traffic flow in the parking lot.

“I think people will be excited because it’s so fresh and so new,” Goodwin said. “We draw a lot of shoppers from Anson County and Laurinburg now, and we hope the word gets out to other nearby places.”

Claudia Robinette smiled while looking out the window at the current state of the plaza.

“I think it’s exciting just to get rid of that blue canopy,” she said. “We’ll finally have some warmer, more neutral colors.”

Robinette described a vision of the project that will be noticeably improved aesthetically and practically, with new landscaping throughout islands and along walkways to offer an inviting and attractive shopping environment.

“It’s such a visible part of Rockingham right here on 74,” Robinette said. “Hopefully with a new and better view from the highway it will become a physical presence that local shoppers and visitors from other areas will be proud of and will enjoy shopping here.”

Goodwin said she believes Rockingham and Richmond County have plenty of people who would support the addition of more upscale places to shop, and that the changes intended for Richmond Plaza could end up saving them trips to neighboring Moore County — but neither she nor Robinette were ready to disclose the names of brands or restaurants being courted. Some new retailers will feature men’s and women’s fashion apparel.

Robinette and Goodwin confirmed that a Roses store will bloom in the current Maxway space. Both Roses and Maxway are two of many discount stores owned by Variety Wholesalers Inc.

“It takes a long time,” Robinette said. “There are so many negotiations and so many things that can fall through. We don’t want to risk saying anything too soon. But I can say that Richmond County is about to have a lot to be excited about.”

Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.