BJ's Wholesale Club, the Nantick, Mass.-based membership warehouse chain, plans to open a store in White Marsh, its first operation in Maryland.
The 117,400-square-foot retail and warehouse operation will be the anchor tenant for the White Marsh Retail Center at Belair Road and Route 43.
The $12 million center, at the site of the former Sunrise Mobile Home Park, is being developed by Heritage Properties Inc. of Towson.
BJ's, which sells a variety of food and non-food items, is scheduled to open there in early spring 1992.
"It's an exciting market place, with a lot of small business people as well as residential development," said BJ's President Herbert Zarkin.
The company, with sales of more than $1.1 billion last year, plans to open between two and three additional stores in the Baltimore area over the next 18 months, Zarkin said. He would not say what areas the company is scouting for those stores.
BJ's is considered fifth among the nation's top membership warehouse chains, behind Price Co., Pace, Sam's and Costco.
Most of the 27 BJ's stores are currently operating in the Eastern United States, including New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Four stores are in Illinois.
Membership warehouses have gained in popularity in recent years. Often built in areas with relatively cheap land prices, retail warehouses have low overhead and large inventories that allow them to offer attractively priced merchandise.
Most warehouses have membership requirements -- limiting membership to government employees or credit union members, for example. BJ's has no requirements for membership, said Zarkin.
No other tenants have been signed for the White Marsh Retail Center, but developers say that having BJ's as the anchor
tenant will draw other businesses soon.
David Rhodes, vice president of Heritage Properties, said negotiations are under way with other possible tenants. He added that he expects the center to ultimately have a restaurant, automotive center and other retail shops.