Annapolis Mall expansion drawing more shoppers

January 12, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

After two years of construction, a $70 million expenditure and several legal challenges, the expansion of Annapolis Mall has paid off in more customers and higher sales.

Since a grand reopening in March, the average daily vehicle count at the mall has been 18,541, up nearly 5,000 cars a day over the previous year, said its manager, Kelly P. Marfyak. December alone saw a 73 percent rise in traffic.

Mall management also reports a 13.5 percent increase in sales in the past year.

The mall thrived after it opened in 1980, but by the end of its first decade. newer regional malls were beginning to nibble away at the market.

CenterMark Properties, a St. Louis-based mall developer, undertook an expansion plan to incorporate about 50 new or remodeled stores, including a new anchor store, Nordstrom. The developer anticipated a 10 percent increase in sales per square foot. The actual rise was more than 20 percent, from $300 to $375 a square foot, said Timothy Lowe, the development director for Westfield Corp., which acquired CenterMark Jan. 1.

The new Annapolis Mall is drawing shoppers from farther way: eastern Prince George's County, Crofton, Laurel and Glen Burnie.

The face lift enlarged the mall by 258,000 square feet and created a 14-tenant food court. The interior was redecorated with skylights, beige German limestone floor tile and minicourts with benches and plants.

"If you were here three years ago and came back today, you would have to pinch yourself to see if you were in the same place or not," said Ms. Marfyak, the manager.

The mall's success has spilled over to neighboring competitors.

"Given today's economy, a 15 percent jump in retail sales is astronomical," said Bill Beatson, managing general partner of the neighboring Annapolis Plaza Shopping Center and Annapolis Restaurant Park.

"People literally can walk out of the mall and say, 'I didn't see what I needed at Nordstrom. Let's see what's in Marshall's,' " said Mr. Beatson, whose shopping center is anchored by Marshall's, F&M and Circuit City.

Annapolis Mall's new merchandise mix -- which offers more women's clothing and specialty stores and household stores -- has attracted more customers, said Ms. Marfyak.

Shoppers also are drawn to Nordstrom, the Seattle-based retailer's third store in Maryland, said retail analysts and developers.

The mall is almost fully leased, with 144 stores, management officials said.

The road to success was not without bumps. Mall renovations began in June 1992 and were supposed to be finished in a year. But Woodward and Lothrop Inc., which has a store nearby in Parole Plaza, filed lawsuits against the mall, arguing that the expansion would lead to traffic jams and the pollution of Weems Creek.

In February 1993, a federal judge threw the case out, saying Woodies had mounted a fight only because it feared losing business to the expanded mall.

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