Hecht's to begin expansion $10 million cost, 50,000 square feet HARFORD COUNTY

February 28, 1993|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

Construction is scheduled to begin next month on a $10 million expansion of the Hecht's department store at Harford Mall.

F. Patrick Hughes, president of BTR Realty, the mall's owner, said the 50,000-square-foot expansion will increase the store's size to 140,000 square feet. The addition will be at the east end of the store, facing Route 24.

"We are excited about getting this project under way," said Mr. Hughes, adding that discussions with Hecht's began three years ago. "We anticipate the expansion serving as stimulus for further projects at the mall."

The expansion is scheduled for completion in October 1994. The project will displace parking spaces, but BTR will provide additional parking at the Mall Annex on Bouldin Street for mall employees.

Anita Dungan, general manager of the Hecht's store for nearly two years, said the company will meet the demands of customers who have asked for products not carried at the Harford store.

"Believe me, we are as excited as the customers about this expansion," she said. "Now we'll be able to provide clothing, household and appliance items not currently found at this store. When completed, this store will be comparable to the one at White Marsh Mall."

"Our customers have been extremely patient with us. They've been telling us how much they like the store but wished we carried items found in other Hecht's stores," she said. "We've told them their wishes will be granted when expansion here is completed."

Ms. Dungan said the expansion will create about 50 jobs in the store.

She said the company is not overly concerned with the possibility of a Wal-Mart store opening at Route 24 and Interstate 95. "We really don't consider Wal-Mart as a chief competitor," she said. "We would be more concerned if Macy's or Nordstrom's were entering the county."

Hecht's, a division of the May Department Stores Co. of St. Louis, operates 42 stores tin Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

The expansion of the Hecht's store will increase Harford Mall's size to more than 600,000 square feet. "This is not the end of the expansion of Harford Mall," Mr. Hughes said. He added that the mall officials are talking to another department store that has expressed interest in moving there, and the mall, which now has the Hecht's and a Montgomery Ward, plans to add a third anchor and additional retail facilities.

Mr. Hughes declined to name the new stores under consideration or when they might be added because, he said, negotiations are continuing.

Mr. Hughes said 90 percent of the mall's retail space is occupied.

B. Fine, a men's clothing store, now occupies the site of the former Buddy's men's clothing store that closed last month, and The Batter's Box, a specialty store featuring trading cards, has left The Festival at Bel Air and will be opening a store in the Harford Mall next week.

BTR, headquartered in Linthicum, owns, manages and operates shopping centers, office and industrial buildings and other properties in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona and Texas.

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