HARRISONBURG — Harman Realty will be demolishing the strip mall off of Interstate 81 that used to house the Sears for the construction of a Longhorn Steakhouse, according to Sean Hesse, the executive director of real estate for Harman Realty.
However, a showroom of Showalter Amusement Company has decided to finish out its lease of the space until April 2020, Hesse said.
“Once their lease is done, we will demolish the building and start our work,” he said.
Harman will only be doing minor work on the property before leasing the land to RARE Hospitality International Inc., an Orlando-based company, who will be responsible for the construction and operation of the business, Hesse said.
RARE is a subsidiary of Darden Restaurants, which also owns Olive Garden, according to Darden’s website.
The development will take up more than 1.8 acres off the total 3.48 acre plot on which the mall sits, according to the site plans. The restaurant itself is planned to be 5,717 square feet.
Nearly 130 parking spots will be available on the parcel, as well as five spots for bicycles. City code requires one rack for at least four bicycles for every 100 off-street parking spaces.
The project is in the comprehensive site plan review phase, according to city staff, who received the proposal on July 29.
More development is planned on the remaining parcel that is not taken up by Longhorn, Hesse said, but no concrete plans have been made.
“We would certainly like to prepare the land again and have someone ground lease it,” he said.
City staff also said there were no plans submitted for the parcel other than the Longhorn Steakhouse.
The strip mall, which was built in 2003, has housed many businesses in the past, including Reflections Prom Pageant and Bridal and Sears.
Harman Construction has also begun work on the future site of a five-story Hyatt Regency less than a mile from the future steakhouse.
Sitting on the hill off Evelyn Byrd Avenue, the hotel will have 120 rooms with a bar on the fifth floor, according to the building permit.
The hotel will also have several conference rooms and an indoor pool. The project is slated to cost $11.5 million.
The plan was approved by the Harrisonburg zoning department on Sept. 29, according to the permit.