Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer, has started building its first Wal-Mart in the county in Glen Burnie.
Workers have demolished all but a shell of a former Ames store at East Park Shopping Center, also called Park 97, at Crain Highway and Interstate 97.Bulldozers, cranes and other heavy equipment sit in the dirt of whatonce was a parking lot.
Files in the county's Permit Application Center show that the 30-year-old discount chain from Bentonville, Ark., plans to build an estimated 40,000-square-foot addition to the existing building to createa 113,000-square-foot store.
The shopping center, owned by the Silver Spring-based East Park Center Limited Partnership, also has a Giant Food, a Fashion Bug and several smaller stores.
The Ames closed in 1990, after its parent company filed for protection from its creditors under federal bankruptcy laws.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman KristinStehben said she was unable to offer any details on the Glen Burnie store.
Engineers for the discounter were granted a grading permit for a parking lot last month, but the building permit they applied for in January has not been awarded, county records show.
If the retailer meets all requirements, construction of the new building could begin in about two months at the earliest, said Donnie W. Woodrow, permits division chief.
Wal-Mart, which also is considering buying apotential store site in West County, is in the midst of a Maryland expansion as part of its latest strategy of moving toward fiercely competitive metropolitan areas.
Store officials said last week that they're considering buying 50 acres at Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Maryland Route 198. The site is owned by Russett Center, a limited partnership developing a new, 613-acre community there.
Wal-Mart opened Maryland stores last year in Prince Frederick, Easton and Hagerstown.
Another opened in Waldorf two weeks ago, while a fifth store is scheduled to open in Elkton this year. Construction is expected to begin this month on a Westminster store, and a Sam's Club, Wal-Mart's members-only discount house, is nearing completion in Parole.
Sam Walton, a 74-year-old billionaire who recently died of bone cancer, founded the Wal-Mart chain in Rogers, Ark., in 1962, concentratingon the under-served areas of the rural South and Midwest.
By stressing low overhead, customer service and low prices for groceries anda wide variety of general merchandise, the retailer has shot ahead of heavyweights Sears, Roebuck & Co. and K mart Corp. in sales and profits.
Plans for the Glen Burnie store include a pharmacy, a gardencenter, a snack bar and a photo lab.
In the last two years, Glen Burnie's commercial hub has emerged as a hot spot for a number of new"mega-stores," such as Atlanta-based Home Depot, European-style hypermarket Leedmark and Sports Authority, based in Fort Lauderdale.