Woodies tells judge it welcomes new Nordstrom But retailer wants road improvements ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY BUSINESS

February 11, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

Woodward & Lothrop Inc. is all for Nordstrom coming to Annapolis Mall next spring, a Woodies attorney told a Circuit Court judge yesterday, as long as mall developers make sure shoppers can easily drive to the Woodies store a half-mile away in Parole.

During a hearing before Judge Bruce C. Williams, attorney John H. Lewin Jr. challenged assertions that Woodies has been fighting mall expansion since early last year for purely competitive reasons.

"The expansion of the mall will probably be good for us," Mr. Lewin said, provided the roadways are improved to handle a traffic rise that could subject motorists to five-minute waits at stoplights. "A new department store will be a draw. It's not competition we're worried about. We want to be able to benefit from it."

Yesterday's hearing, another in a series of Woodies' challenges against mall plans to add a Nordstrom and 50 smaller shops, centered around the question of whether Woodies has legal standing to challenge the plans.

Last July, the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals dismissed Woodies' challenge of development plans, and Woodies appealed that ruling to Circuit Court. Judge Williams said he plans to issue a written decision on the matter, but gave no timetable.

Attorneys for the mall and the county argued yesterday that Woodies lacks standing because its store sits too far from the mall and because Woodies would not suffer from increased traffic any more than any other business in Parole.

"What we're dealing with is an age-old issue of dollars and cents," said Jamie Insley, senior assistant county attorney. "Standing is not based on how many dollars you expect to gain or lose."

"We believe competition is the issue here," said Kathryn J. Dahl, attorney for Annapolis Mall Limited Partnership, the mall's owner.

But Mr. Lewin argued that economics lies at the heart of most zoning appeals. Particularly during the annual Christmas rush, he said, heavy traffic on insufficient roads could hurt business.

"Our employees or patrons and customers we hope to attract are going to be turned away during a time when we earn 30 percent of our revenue. This is going to have a real unique and special impact, especially during a season when Christmas shoppers are out and we want them to come to our store. The livelihood of our enterprise depends on the ability of consumers to get to our store."

Woodies and mall officials negotiated for about three years to bring a new, larger Woodies store to the mall. After talks broke off, Woodies was told that Nordstrom would come to the mall instead.

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