Wal-Mart planning to open 2 stores in Howard County If county approves, nation's biggest retailer will build in Ellicott City.

Commercial real estate

September 18, 1991|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,Evening Sun Staff

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retail chain, says it is going to open two stores on a single parcel in Ellicott City even though the company has yet to get county zoning approval for the project.

The two stores, a Wal-Mart and Sam's Club-Members Only, have been proposed for an area near the intersection of U.S. 40 and 29, on Ridge Road. Wal-Mart officials said construction of the stores will begin in fall 1992, with openings set for spring 1993.

"This is a double commitment to Ellicott City from Wal-Mart and Sam's to serve both the family shopper and the small-business owner," said David Glass, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart.

Still, Howard County officials this week said the Wal-Mart proposal has yet to come before the county's planning or zoning boards. The parcel being eyed by Wal-Mart is currently zoned for office construction. Wal-Mart is seeking commercial zoning approval.

The area is a tangle of sometimes heavily congested intersections.

"I would like to see them in Howard County," said County Executive Charles I. Ecker. "But they have some traffic problems that they have to solve. That is my overriding concern."

Ecker's assistant, Beverly Wilhide, said the project will likely draw protests from residents because of the potential for traffic problems.

"As soon as it's at the planning stage, I'm sure I'll start getting phone calls on it," Wilhide said.

When asked why Wal-Mart would announce a project that had not received county approval, Wilhide responded, "Beats me. I haven't the faintest idea."

There was no explanation from Wal-Mart officials about the timing of the announcement.

If approved, the new stores will be the first Wal-Mart operations in the Baltimore area. The company, which has stacked up an impressive record in discount retail sales nationwide, has stores scheduled to open elsewhere outside the Baltimore area later this year. Those stores include ones in Prince Frederick, Hagerstown, Easton and Waldorf.

Approximately 400 jobs will be created at the two Ellicott City stores; 250 jobs at Wal-Mart and 150 jobs at Sam's, officials said.

The Wal-Mart, a one-stop shopping center with 36 departments, will be approximately 119,500 square feet, officials said. The Sam's store, which is a membership food warehouse, will be approximately 132,500 square feet.

Lutherville-based Mangione Family Enterprises will develop the

project, with groundbreaking in the fall of 1992.

The following lease transactions were announced by Casey & Associates Commercial and Industrial Realtors:

* Cornerstone Management and Development, a full service hotel and adult congregate living facility, recently leased 1,634 square feet of office space at 10270 Old Columbia Road in Columbia. Casey & Associates represented the tenant, while Manekin Corp. officials represented themselves as landlord.

* Natural Plants Inc., a wholesaler and distributor of plants, has leased 10,000 square feet of warehouse space at Techwood, 1342 Charwood Road in Hanover. Casey & Associates represented the tenants, while Trammel Crow Co. represented themselves as the landlord.

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