A year after a tornado swept through Reisterstown, the management of the Chartley Park Center is looking back on the twister as a blessing in disguise.
On Oct. 18, 1990, a tornado with winds up to 100 miles an hour cut through Reisterstown, downing power lines and trees, destroying homes and snapping utility poles like match sticks.
Although the shopping center was damaged, the attention it received has improved the visibility of the 25-year old shopping center, said Steven Erlanger, a property manager for Continental Realty Corp.
The Towson-based real estate development and management company owns Chartley Park, which is on Chartley Drive.
"It put Chartley Park on the map," he said. "Now [people] know what Chartley is. I think traffic has increased since then."
Construction crews spent nearly six weeks repairing the shopping center after the tornado, which struck just after an eight-month, $1.5 million renovation had been completed there. The repairs cost the center another $250,000.
The roof of the entire shopping complex was replaced, the Super Fresh supermarket got a new facade, new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems were installed and the parking lot was resurfaced, Erlanger said. He said F&H Roofing Contractors Inc. handled repairs.
Chartley Park consists of a 110,000-square-foot shopping center and a separate 12,000-square-foot office building located behind the retail complex.
Retail tenants include Super Fresh, True Value Hardware, Eagle Strength & Fitness, Little Caesar's, China Moon, Ultimate Expressions, Rite-Aid and The Shutterbug. There are 28 stores and nine offices.
The retail section of the center sustained most of the damage. While no one was killed and only nine were injured, none seriously, the raging winds peeled back the roof of the center's 36,000-square-foot Super Fresh store and the store's front was blown off, Erlanger said.
Erlanger said he stayed throughout the night, making sure that he honored his promise to Super Fresh officials to have the store ready for customers by 8 a.m. the next morning.
During the clean-up, several of the center's tenants offered their services, Erlanger said, including Little Caesar's, which supplied free pizzas to emergency teams and nearby residents who were made homeless by the tornado.
"They were phenomenal," Erlanger said. "I can't believe it's already been a year since it happened."