Old mill sees its future in specialty businesses Renovation project about 80% complete

December 31, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

The new banquet hall at Historic Savage Mill has been booked for about 70 events stretching into 1994, said the renovation project manager, who is working to recruit retail businesses to complement the facility.

The Great Room, a 6,000-square-foot banquet hall in the newly renovated Old Weave Building, has been leased to the Classic Catering People of Owings Mills, said Jay Winer, general partner of Savage Mill Limited Partnership. The facility, which can accommodate about 300 people and has a 2,000-square-foot deck overlooking the Little Patuxent River, opened in October for conferences, wedding receptions and other events.

The 170-year-old cotton mill on Foundry Street is being converted into a combination retail outlet, antique center, museum, and arts and crafts center. The 12-building renovation project, which started about eight years ago, is about 80 percent complete.

Mr. Winer said two retail businesses have signed leases for the Old Weave Building, which has about 14,000 square feet of retail space on the upper floor adjacent to the Great Room. Bev & Lee Wilhide's Flowers Inc. has opened, and Insight Concepts, a bookstore, is making final arrangements to move in, he said.

Savage Mill management is negotiating with several formal wear businesses and is trying to attract shops such as a jewelry or fine china and glassware store to the vacant retail space, Mr. Winer said. Management is marketing Savage Mill to specialty businesses, he said.

"Things are going pretty well, all things considered," said Mr. Winer. "Nobody's sure what to expect from the retail leasing market today."

About 25 percent of the Old Weave Building's 40,000 square feet has not been leased, Mr. Winer said. The remaining vacancies are for retail use.

The Classic Catering People expects to do a booming business at the site, said president Edward Dopkin. The company hopes to achieve about $1 million in sales in a year, following a six-month period of marketing the facility to businesses and private groups, Mr. Dopkin said.

"Some people say who would want to have a wedding party in a shopping mall," he said. "But we look at Savage Mill as a specialty center that's very unique. We think that's a draw."

The Great Room costs $1,200 to rent for weekend bookings, and between $250 and $750 on weekdays, Mr. Dopkin said.

Antique Center III, the third grouping of antique dealers within the Savage Mill complex, opened in the Old Weave Building in October. About 100 dealers moved into the 20,000-square-foot lower level of the building, bringing the total number of antique dealers at Savage Mill to about 225.

With the additional dealers, sales more than doubled in November over the same month last year, Mr. Winer said. He did not provide sales figures.

"It's understandable because we doubled the space, but we didn't expect sales would automatically double," he said.

Several other businesses signed leases in the past two months for other Savage Mill buildings, including three specialty and contemporary design furniture stores, a frame shop and a gift shop.

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