By Lydia Wheeler
Free People, a high-end women's fashion store, will join its sister store Anthropologie in Virginia Beach Town Center along with yoga and running apparel store Lululemon in the fall.
Free People, a Philadelphia-based retailer, will fill space previously occupied by Red Star Tavern in the Armada Hoffler Tower at 222 Central Park Ave. Lululemon is opening in the new 15-story tower - 4525 Main - in space opposite Anthropologie.
The Free People store, which carries women's clothing, swimwear, accessories and shoes, will occupy 3,200 square feet and, like Anthropologie, will open in October. The Town Center location will be the company's first and only store in Hampton Roads.
"They are one of the darlings of the retail business today," said Gerald Divaris, chair and CEO of Divaris Real Estate, Town Center's leasing agent. "They are highly sought after."
Free People is one of five brands owned by URBN Inc. The others are Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Terrain and BHLDN.
"When Urban Outfitters first opened in the 1970s, the store was called Free People," said Jed Paulson, Free People's director of marketing and e-commerce, in an email response to questions sent by media staff.
"The name changed to Urban Outfitters one year later and Free People resurfaced in 1984 as a wholesale label. It grew to be its own separate wholesale line and now today a full-scope lifestyle brand."
Free People has about 95 locations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as stores in Japan and Hong Kong.
U.S. locations include two stores in Arlington and one store in Tyson's Corner, but the clothing line, which targets women ages 26 to 40, is mostly found online and in department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.
"It appeals to a slightly different customer than Anthropologie, but has a very fashion-forward look to it," Divaris said. "It's a little more trendy."
The former Red Star Tavern space was split in two and Divaris said another retailer will fill the open space next to Free People.
Lululemon will open in the new tower at 4525 Main in space opposite Anthropologie. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company is leasing 3,200 square feet at the corner of Main Street and Town Center Drive. Anthropologie will occupy 9,432 square feet.
Lululemon's Town Center store will be the company's first and only store in Hampton Roads.
In the Divaris-issued news release, Sezin Cortinas, a real estate agent in Virginia Beach, said it took three years to bring Lululemon to Town Center.
Although Free People, Lululemon and Anthropologie are high-end retailers, Divaris said his leasing agents are not specifically targeting top-dollar stores for the retail hub.
"Ideally, we're looking for a mix of the one-and-only stores in the market," he said. "Stores that can't be found in Lynnhaven Mall or Mac Arthur Center."
The Town Center development, which encompasses 17 blocks and is in its fifth phase, has a host of retailers including Men's Warehouse, Destination Maternity, Caché, LOFT, Origins, Brooks Brothers, Sunglass Hut and It's Sugar.
The office of the Virginia Beach Economic Development Department was the first to move into 4525 Main on June 6.