Borders opening new store

June 22, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Borders Books & Music will expand its presence in the Baltimore region, opening its second 20,000-square-foot "super store" with as many as 150,000 book titles under one roof in Columbia.

In a deal announced yesterday, the Columbia-based Manekin Corp. said it also had signed Zany Brainy, a large-scale retailer that sells educational children's books, music and electronic merchandise, to a 10-year lease in Snowden Square, an enormously successful regional shopping center off Route 175 and Snowden Square Road.

Zany Brainy will occupy a 12,000-square-foot building and Borders has signed a 20-year lease for a 20,000-square-foot building that will be built by Manekin, company officials said.

The deals add to Howard County's stature as a magnet for national retailers and may be evidence of a rebound in the build-to-suit commercial market, flat for the several years, said real estate executives.

Donald Manekin, a senior vice president and partner in the company, said the deals mark "a further commitment by national retailers to the Howard County marketplace."

The "high quality of the county's demographics" has grabbed the interest of the country's leading retailers, said Mr. Manekin.

The deals also are evidence of a new willingness on the part of financial institutions to bankroll commercial projects, said Mr. Manekin.

"In these cases it wasn't just one financial institution that we had a 20-year relationship with but several institutions who in the past have been rather reluctant to lend on these type of projects. They were all saying we have money to put out for quality projects."

Snowden Square has already proven itself to be one of the hottest commercial sites in the Baltimore area.

Discounters BJ's and Marshall's have opened stores in Snowden Square, as have Bed, Bath & Beyond, PetsMart, Service Merchandise and several other retailers on the leading edge of niche marketing.

In April, McDonald's Restaurants said it would launch one of its indoor play centers, called Leaps & Bounds, in Snowden Square.

The Borders and Zany Brainy agreements mark the last two major sites to be snapped up in Snowden Square, a 40-acre property which was formerly part of a failed General Electric industrial park.

The Columbia-based Rouse Co. won rezoning for the land about two years ago and began developing and marketing it as a regional "power center" shopping area.

The goal for the center was to provide Columbia area residents with those shopping services that the company had found consumers were leaving the area to obtain.

The addition of Zany Brainy and Borders, companies considered to have strong retail concepts, "further strengthens the mix" of retailers which either have opened or plan to open in Snowden Square, said Edward Ely, senior land sales and marketing director with Rouse.

The Zany Brainy store will be the first shop the Philadelphia-based chain opens in Maryland. The privately held company plans a store in Rockville and is looking at several sites in the Baltimore-Washington area, company executives said.

The 2-year-old privately held chain, which has six stores, stocks an inventory of what it considers educational-type toys, such as science kits, crafts, electronic games for learning, and videos.

Stores also feature computer stations and other areas for children to play with items in stock, as well as a mini-theater for customers to view children-oriented videos.

Borders, owned by Kmart and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich, already has locations in Towson and Rockville. The stores emphasize customer service and feature inventories of 70,000 to 150,000 books as well as extensive collections of music on CD and tape.

The Manekin company also announced yesterday that it has signed a 10-year lease with Blockbuster Video, which will move to an 8,000-square-foot store in the Dobbin Square shopping center, located off Dobbin Road and Route 175.

The Blockbuster Video store will replace a 3,700-square-foot Erol's Video. Both video rental stores are owned by Blockbuster.

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