Parkington Shopping Center opened in 1951 and was one of the first major suburban shopping centers in the Washington D.C. area. It was the first shopping center built around a multi-story parking garage in the United States and was located at the intersection of Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard in Ballston.
Parkington became a hub for Arlingtonians for Christmas shopping when a $6.5 million Hecht’s store opened in the Parkington Shopping Center on November 2, 1951. At its opening, the five story, 300,000-square-foot store (see artist’s rendering at right) was the largest suburban department store on the East Coast. Over the years, the $15 million Parkington Shopping Center expanded to 30 stores including Giant Food, McCrory’s, Hub Furniture, Crawford Clothes, Franc Jewelers, W.T. Grant, Wilbur-Rogers Women’s Apparel, A.S. Beck Shoes, Brentano’s Books, and Casual Corner. In May 1974, J.C. Penney opened a “soft line” merchandise and catalog store.
Parkington became known not just for its stores and parking garage, but for its Christmas decorations and signs on the side of the Hecht’s section of the building. In the featured photo above, tin soldiers adorn the flag poles outside of Hecht’s. In the photo at right the sign says: “School’s Open… Drive Carefully”.
By 1982, the 30-year-old Parkington Shopping Center was in need of a facelift. Beginning that year, Arlington County and the owners, May Centers, embarked on a $100 million renovation project and expansion of the shopping center. Part of this was a contest among Arlington residents for a name for the new mall. That contest was how “Ballston Common” came to be the mall’s name. Ballston Common mall opened on October 20, 1986 just in time to herald an early Christmas shopping season.
In the early 2000s, the mall became home to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, headquarters and practice facility for the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals. On May 31, 2016, most businesses closed so the mall could be redeveloped into Ballston Quarter by its owners, Forest City Washington.