Renovated mall will be one of largest on the East Coast

TOWSON TOWN CENTER FACE LIFT

July 09, 1991|By Michael Dresser

It will have 113 palm trees, 3,080 green plants and 731 flowering plants.

Its three domes will hold a combined 1,000 panes of custom-cut glass. Animal sculptures, including a winged frog and a snail with antlers, will preside from 20-foot pedestals as shoppers bustle from boutique to boutique.

Towson Town Center, once a dowdy, 1950s-style mall slumbering in the shadow of Hutzler's, will celebrate its official reawakening as regional mega-mall Oct. 16. Its builders say it all will be done in the best of taste.

"The structure itself is breathtaking. It's going to be beautiful," said Carolyn Bodie, Towson Town spokeswoman. "Of course, we haven't seen the winged frog yet."

Chris Schardt, general manager for Towson Town, said he expects about 160 of the estimated 200 shop stalls to be occupied when the San Diego-based Hahn Co. unveils its $150 million renovation. Several years of renovation have taken a toll on the merchants in the existing section of the mall, he said, but he added that about 75 of the original 85 tenants are expected to remain when the transformation is complete.

Nordstrom, the celebrated Seattle-based department-store chain that will provide one of the mall's two anchors, has begun construction but will not open its store until the fall of 1992, he said. Hecht's, the other anchor, has already completed its renovation.

Towson Town Center will encompass almost a million square feet, making it one of the largest malls on the East Coast, Hahn said. The 30-acre tract at Fairmount Avenue, Dulaney Valley Road and Joppa Road will have room for about 5,100 cars, providing "ample parking and good traffic flow," Mr. Schardt said.

The mall's interior, redesigned by Baltimore-based RTKL Associates, is inspired by Italian and French formal gardens, according to Hahn. Statues of mythological figures will rise two stories high from the center's east and west promenades. In the food court, huge leaves will rise up on columns that will reach to a painted mural.

"So many people spend so much time in malls that aesthetics are very important," said Diane Lewis, the center's marketing director.

The center will kick off its festivities Oct. 15, the night before the official opening, with a black-tie "Bay-nanza." Each guest's $50 admission charge will be donated directly to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

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