The Rouse Co. continues to lure tenants with regional and national reputations to its sprawling regional shopping center in Columbia, Snowden Square.
Rouse is attempting to shape the project, off Snowden River Parkway on Columbia's east side, as a "power center," drawing customers and high-volume spending from a broad area.
The new tenants should bolster that effort, say Rouse executives.
Two national chains have decided to open restaurants in the project and three more retail stores have taken sites.
Meanwhile, negotiations have begun with two other national restaurant chains interested in sites and four other retail store operators, said Ed Ely, senior land sales and marketing director with the Rouse Co.
"Initially we had thought Snowden Square would draw shoppers from about a seven-mile radius," an area that would include Ellicott City and Laurel, Mr. Ely said.
"But we're convinced now that the trade area is bigger. Retailers that are open there now say customers are traveling from the Baltimore Beltway and Glen Burnie," he said.
"We probably will see even more people traveling from those areas once some more of the new stores open," he predicted.
Rouse plans a study of customers' car license plates at its successful Restaurant Park venture off Route 175 and Interstate 95, about a mile from Snowden Square, to see how wide an area customers are coming from to eat at the four-restaurant complex.
Richard Johnson is senior vice president for marketing at Morrison Restaurants Inc., which has signed on to build a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in the Snowden Square project. He says the company was attracted to Snowden Square because of its strong revenue potential.
"That area has great growth potential," Mr. Johnson said. "You have a lot of residential areas very close by and yet the shopping center as a whole will draw people regionally.
"There are some very strong retail stores going in there. It'exactly the kind of retail center we like to be in."
BJ's Wholesale Club, which offers deep discounts on items bought in bulk, and Hechinger's Home Project Center have opened in the center.
Service Merchandise Inc., the Nashville-based general merchandise and jewelry catalog retailer with sales of $3.7 billion in 1992, signed on to be the other anchor store early in the project. It plans an Oct. 28 opening. The 50,000 square foot store will hire about 120 full- and part-time workers.
And Marshall's, a clothing and home accessories discounter, plans to open a 36,000-square foot operation today. The store will employ 75.
When complete, the shopping center will total about 500,000 square feet -- the county's largest shopping area after the 800,000-square-foot Mall in Columbia.
The restaurants, on freestanding sites near the anchors, that plan openings:
* Bertucci's, a brick oven pizzeria, plans a Dec. 15 opening for a 250-seat restaurant. The publicly held chain, with sales of $52 million in 1992, expects to hire about 135 full- and part-time workers for the new eatery. Bertucci's features an Italian-oriented menu, including calzones, pastas and pizza. The chain has a restaurant operating in Annapolis and plans sites in Owings Mills and White Marsh.
* Ruby Tuesday, a theme restaurant featuring sandwiches, soups, burgers and salads, plans a March 9 opening. Operated by Morrison Restaurants, based in Mobile, Ala., it will employ about 100 full- and part-time workers. There are three other Ruby Tuesday restaurants in the Baltimore area -- Owings Mills, White Marsh and Bel Air.
New retail operations that have signed on for sites:
* Staples, the Massachusetts-based firm that operates warehouse-style office supplies stores, has signed on for a 17,000-square-foot store. It plans an opening in 1994 and will employ about 40.
* PETsMART, a Phoenix-based pet supplies superstore that is attempting to raise capital through a proposed public offering, plans to open a 25,000-square-foot store. It's opening is expected in March.
* Bed, Bath & Beyond, a Springfield, N.J.-based company on a national expansion bent, plans to open this weekend. The operation offers discounts on a deep inventory of bed linens, bathroom and bedroom accessories, and home decorating accessories, such as accent tables and lamps. The Columbia store will employ about 200.
Mr. Ely said that Rouse has attempted to sign on tenants whose inventories aren't completely identical. But some operations' NTC inventories will inevitably overlap with others in Snowden Square and in the nearby Dobbin Center shopping center -- which should prove good for value-minded shoppers, he said.
For example, Marshall's will vie with Upton's, another clothing discounter, which plans to open in Dobbin Center, and with Ross Dress-for-Less, open in Dobbin.
Meanwhile, restaurants opening in Snowden Square will have competition at Rouse's nearby restaurant park, where several national-name chains have opened.
"It will an interesting place to shop; a very competitive area," said Robin Ballin, marketing director for Bed, Bath & Beyond, which posted revenues of $216 million in 1992.
Snowden Square is a redevelopment effort by Rouse to convert some undeveloped land at the former General Electric Corp. industrial park.
GE, which opened the park in 1970, never fulfilled its plans for the manufacturing center and gradually shifted its operations away. The county rezoned about 60 acres in the park so Rouse could develop it commercially.