The new Caldor opening Nov. 1 in Severna Park Mall will offer bettermerchandise and snazzier displays than the Caldor that pulled out two years ago, prompting a mass exodus of merchants, mall management says.
The discount outlet will join the existing Giant Food as anchor of a $4 million, reconstructed strip shopping center, which will reopen as Severna Park Centre in spring, said Thomas P. Turchan Jr., managing partner with Severna Park Mall Associates, the center's owner.
The troubled mall, which the current owner took over in 1986, hasremained nearly empty for about a year. Only The Fashion Bug and Kona Tiki restaurant remain inside.
"The problem we've run into is that to the majority of retailers, the small-mall concept does not work," said Turchan. He added that in five years, his company has signed only one lease with a new merchant.
While retailers lost business and eventually moved from the mall, leaving an empty shell, larger malls in the county have found themselves prospering.
The largest malls recently announced expansion plans.
Marley Station in Glen Burnie will add a third anchor to Hecht's and Macy's when a 133,000-square-foot J. C. Penney store opens in late 1993. In addition, AnnapolisMall in Parole will expand with a Nordstrom department store and 50 new shops by September 1993.
Though Severna Park's once-thriving, enclosed 35-store mall failed, Turchan said he believes a strip shopping center will appeal both to retailers and customers.
"There's atremendous amount of interest," he said. "While we're working on Caldor, we've got people trying to walk in there trying to shop."
Despite the mall's past failings, the site is "the best location on Route 2," with good access in the heart of Severna Park, Turchan said.
He noted that average family income there, slightly more than $50,000, exceeds Annapolis' average family income, slightly less than $50,000.
As part of a project first announced in May 1990, mall management will raze most of the mall -- leaving the Giant Food and Caldor space intact. The mall will then be rebuilt in a U shape farther back from Ritchie Highway, making room for about 100 more parking spaces.
About 12 stores, averaging 3,000 to 4,000 square feet in size, will front on the lot.
Caldor Inc. has begun a $1.5 million reconstruction inside the 90,000-square-foot building -- the same space Caldorabandoned before May Department Stores Inc. sold the chain.
The new owners, planning a newly designed store featuring better lighting,a new color scheme and more logical groupings of merchandise, have said they want to return to an area the store found profitable during its first occupancy.
In addition to the strip shopping center, themall's owner will build a 22,000-square-foot, free-standing buildingbetween Caldor and Hardee's, part of which will be filled by a restaurant, Turchan said.
A year ago, most of the mall's retailers had moved or were on their way out. Merchants said the sharp decline had begun three years earlier. Stores began to close. New shops never replaced them. For those that hung on, the bottom fell out when Caldor left after a lease dispute with management.
Merchants and former merchants at that time blamed mall management, which they said forced them out by acting in an uncooperative manner -- refusing to re-negotiate leases or sign new tenants.
Turchan, though, said he'd tried for three years to pull in new tenants. He attributed the mall's failure to increased competition in the area.
The managing partner saidhe expects The Fashion Bug to move its store to one of the new center's spaces.
The company is negotiating leases with several other retailers, but Turchan would not release any names.
Among the tenants, he expects apparel, shoe and book stores and a hair salon, he said.