Woodward & Lothrop Inc.'s challenge to a proposed expansion of Annapolis Mall has already delayed construction long enough that it is unlikely Nordstrom will be able to meet its planned opening date of August 1993, a top Nordstrom executive in Seattle said yesterday.
"That, in all likelihood, cannot be met at this time," said Dave Mackie, Nordstrom's vice president for real estate. Mr. Mackie said he could not speculate about when the Annapolis store would open, but he noted that it takes 13 to 18 months to build a Nordstrom store.
With Woodward & Lothrop threatening a lawsuit that could throw new roadblocks in the way of the expansion, it is now questionable whether the Seattle-based Nordstrom's third Maryland store will open before 1994.
"We're continually frustrated by the actions of Woodies to block the project," Mr. Mackie said. He reaffirmed that Nordstrom was committed to an Annapolis Mall opening.
Woodies, which has one of its stores a mile away at Parole Plaza, has been battling the plan by CenterMark Properties, Annapolis Mall's manager, to add the 260,000-square-foot Nordstrom store.
Woodies, a Washington-based chain that was passed over for a spot in the enlarged mall in favor of Nordstrom, is basing its fight against the project on environmental grounds, claiming the related widening of Bestgate Road is polluting a tributary of Weems Creek.
Woodies has raised objections to Anne Arundel County officials and state agencies, which have issued permits allowing the mall to build a storm-water basin to control runoff from the construction.
The chain has threatened to file a suit under the federal Clean Water Act if those agencies don't revoke the permits. The state's Department of the Environment is reviewing its decision to approve the project.
Nordstrom, which opened its first Maryland store at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda last year, is to open its first Baltimore-area store at Towson Town Center Sept. 11.
In a related development, Woodies said it has renewed the lease for its 28-year-old store in Parole Plaza for another 20 years.
Robert Mulligan, vice chairman of the department store chain, said the company signed a new lease after he and his associates unsuccessfully negotiated for three years to move into Annapolis Mall. He said the company was "disappointed and dismayed" to learn that Nordstrom is the only anchor store that the owner of Annapolis Mall, May Centers, plans to add.
The decision to renew the lease at Parole Plaza represents "a renewed commitment to our many customers in the Annapolis area," Mr. Mulligan said in a statement. "We are proud to have served this community for 28 years. And now our total attention is focused on how to protect and improve this long-term commitment to our Parole Plaza store."