Harborplace and the Gallery, the centerpieces of one of the country's most successful redevelopment efforts, are feeling the pinch of the recession.
Over the past several weeks, 13 of the festival marketplace's 200 shops and restaurants have closed, leaving empty storefronts in an otherwise vital retail center.
Some of the casualties are the result of the Rouse Co.'s decision not to renew leases in an effort to keep the Harborplace and Gallery novel by offering an ever-changing variety of tenants.
But some retailers at the mall, which includes the 10-year-old Pratt and Light Street pavilions and the newer Gallery, have been the victims of a slowing economy and poor sales, J. Martin Lastner, the development's new vice president and general manager, said yesterday.
Harborplace and the Gallery have "historically experienced a 5 to 15 percent growth rate in annual sales," Mr. Lastner said. But in the past year, that growth has slowed to 3 percent to 5 percent, and some retailers have been reporting declines, he said.
The stores that have closed recently are:
* At the Pratt Street Pavilion: Tie One On and Gordon's Booksellers.
* At the Light Street Pavilion: Candy Wrappers, I Catchers Sportswear, Herbs Unlimited, Cats & Co.,T. J. Cinnamon's Bakery and Vincenzo's Produce Co.
* At the Gallery: Units, Rainbow Hair Design, Tezio, Tannage and the Fur Factory.
The Shop for Pappagallo, a women's shoe and clothing store in the Pratt Street Pavilion, is reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and is in the midst of a reorganization sale. It is not certain whether the store will remain at the Inner Harbor when the sale ends.
In keeping with the Rouse Co.'s usual secretiveness about its projects, Mr. Lastner would not go into the specifics of each closing, but he did say that Tie One On, Candy Wrappers and Cats & Co. -- a store devoted to the sale of feline-themed merchandise -- were not profitable.
Melvin Gordon, owner of Gordon's Booksellers, said he chose to close his Harborplace branch last week because it was not making money. He has six other stores in the area.
I Catchers, a sportswear chain based on the West Coast, didn't want to keep a store on the East Coast, he said.
J. C. Penney made a corporate decision to cut back on its Units stores because of falling sales and increased competition from Multiples, a similar clothing store.
Mr. Lastner said Rouse already has found tenants for eight of the 13 vacant spots in the Gallery and Harborplace and is holding discussions with three more.
The new stores, which were not identified, are not expected to open until late spring or early summer, Mr. Lastner said.
The White House, a retailer that sells only white clothes and accessories on the first floor of the Pratt Street Pavilion, is expected to expand into the space left vacant by Tie One On, Mr. Lastner said.