Ballston Quarter begins soft opening


The mall construction workers recently painted Ballston’s name onto the side of the building. The newly-restored mall features several new entertainment options.

After a period of renovation, the brand-new Ballston Quarter has begun to open shops in the last few weeks. The mall offers clothing stores, entertainment and lots of dining. It is conveniently located only a few minutes away from the school, and is easily accessible to public transportation to the Ballston metro bus stop, so students will easily be able to enjoy these new amenities. The mall now has new design features as well, such as an outdoor section and a more modern interior.

The mall began a soft-opening recently, and several students have begun to visit. It now offers large windows, white floors, sleek metal railings and a screen detailing all public transportation information and timing, including Uber drivers’ distance from the mall. All together, the mall’s designers have modernized many of its features.

“The design is amazing,” sophomore Sophia Edwards said. “It’s really clean and open, and there’s lots of light. It definitely looks a lot nicer than it used to.”

While new clothing stores are opening, including Francesca’s and Scott & Molly’s, the focus of the mall seems to be entertainment and dining. This may be because of the move toward online shopping. In recent years, according to the Atlantic, retailers who have not transitioned online have been forced to cut locations or, in the case of Toys R Us, shut down completely.

However, that does not mean that malls’ profits have to suffer too. According to Urban Land Magazine, malls such as Tyson’s Corner in McLeanhave thrived in recent years due to the increase of dining, entertainment and office buildings. These additions mean that shoppers are no longer going to the mall to pick up one item; they are going to spend the whole day in an entertainment center. Thus, by adding more entertainment and dining options, Ballston Quarter has set themselves up to stay open despite the online shopping boom.

That does mean that students may have to look elsewhere for clothing, “I think they’re putting a lot of focus on dining, which isn’t a super smart choice, especially since there’s so many restaurants already around Ballston,” Edwards said. “It’ll still be cool to have so many food options nearby. I just wish they had balanced it with the shops more.”

Other students disagree with this assessment, though. “I think it’s a good move [to move toward entertainment] because it’ll drag more people in,” junior Camilla Regalia said. “If parents want to shop, they can drop their kids off to do something interactive.”

There are many new entertainment options that could attract teens. Among the new options are Punch Bowl Social, a two-story restaurant that advertises bowling and an arcade and 5-Wits, an experience similar to an escape room.

5-Wits, which is opening in early 2019, describes themselves as a heavily themed and story-driven experience that goes through several rooms and takes about 30 minutes to complete. It will be 12,000 square feet and feature three adventures: “Tomb”, “Espionage”, and “Drago’s Castle.”

According to 5-Wits, in “Tomb”, a participant is part of a team of archaeologists that enter an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb and must find the burial chamber. In “Espionage”, guests become secret agents and must stop a planned missile attack by infiltrating the headquarters of an evil corporation. In “Drago’s Castle”, guests must save an escaped dragon with the help of a princess and her magic.

“[I’m excited for] 5-Wits because they have interactive things to do, so if I’m bored, I can go there on the weekends with my friends,” Regalia said.

Also available is Instagram Alley, located on floor M2, where selfie spots are offered. The mall says they will be giving $25 gift cards away in a raffle based in the photo areas. Selfie-takers can enter the raffle by posting their pictures using the hashtag #WHATSNEWATBQ (BQ meaning Ballston Quarter) and tagging @ballstonquarter.

However, Instagram Alley does not appeal to all students. “Instagram Alley’s kind of weird, because it seems like the older generation’s trying to create things for the younger generation that the younger generation might not actually appreciate,” Regalia said.

As from before the renovations, Medstar Capitals Iceplex and Regal Stadium 12, the ice skating rink and movie theater, will remain open.

With all the new stores and dining options, students have not only new shopping options, but also new job opportunities. While at some places, such as 5-Wits, one must be 18 or older to get a job, Regal Cinemas hires 16 year olds, so students can apply for a job there.

“I think that the new mall is going to be really great for the community,” Edwards said. “There’s going to something for everyone to enjoy.”