A husband-and-wife business team, envisioning an upscale home furnishing mall in Towson Town Center's vacant Hutzler building, is negotiating a 50-year lease with Towson Town's owner, the San Diego-based Hahn Co.
Charles and Laura Moore are the two main partners in Baltimore-based Emporium Development -- created more than a year ago to launch the concept, which will include about 90 wall covering, tile, decoration and furniture retailers, Mr. Moore said yesterday.
Mr. Moore, a 33-year-old Baltimore native, has a nine-year background in venture capital financing and growth companies. Mrs. Moore, 31, is a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard and was a consultant manager for Boston-based Bain & Co. for five years, which does research on what makes shopping centers and retailers successful. The couple is splitting their time between Baltimore and Boston.
The store, named Decor, would occupy all four floors in the 200,000-square-foot building left vacant by Hutzler's demise more than a year ago.
Bill Doyle, vice president of project development for Hahn, said the leasing of the old Hutzler's building would be an important hurdle for Towson Town Center, which has been undergoing a major expansion and renovation project, which will include a Nordstrom's.
"It is an expensive building to have sitting vacant," Mr. Doyle said. "We would like to put it to good use and get some activity on the corner" of York and Joppa roads.
The kinds of retailers Mr. Moore said he would like to lure to the space are national, upscale home furnishing chains such as Conran's, Laura Ashley, Casa Nova and William Sonoma.
However, Decor is far from a complete deal. Both Hahn and Emporium said the lease is subject to certain undisclosed plan and design requirements, not expected to be completed for several months. If the deal does go through, Mr. Moore said he does not expect Decor to be open for business until mid-1992.
"We see the Hutzler building as a retail landmark that had a sad and slow demise," Mr. Moore said, explaining why he and his wife decided on Towson as the site of their first store. "It's a terrific spot, but it doesn't lend itself to a department store because it's too far from the center of the mall."
Mr. Moore said the Decor/Towson Town liaison will create the same kind of atmosphere White Marsh mall received when it brought in IKEA, which is a home furnisher physically separated from the mall.
Baltimore-based Kann & Ammon Inc. is scheduled to be the architect for the Decor project and Timonium-based Riparius Construction Co. is slated to be the builder.