Rouse putting Harundale Mall up for sale

April 13, 1995|By Consella A. Lee and Shirley Leung | Consella A. Lee and Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writers

Rouse Co. officials have told merchants that they are putting Harundale Mall up for sale. The merchants say they don't care.

"It doesn't make a difference who owns it as long as they do something to bring it back up," said Robert Braun, who owns Hair Salon in the southeast corner of the mall. "Businesses have sort of drifted. I still think Harundale's got a lot of potential."

Mr. Braun opened his salon in November and said he still plans to expand his business. "If someone took an interest in the mall and rebuilding the original concept of what it was supposed to be, you could have a successful mall," he said.

Built in 1958 for $10 million, Harundale was the Rouse Co.'s first enclosed mall and the first one east of the Mississippi, complete with heating and air conditioning.

When it opened, on Oct. 1, Mr. Rouse greeted customers and a slew of politicians showed up, including Sen. John F. Kennedy, who cut the mall ribbon during a campaign stop.

Harundale was among the few shopping centers on Ritchie Highway then. Hochschild Kohn Co. anchored the 45-store mall. Today, the mall is barely two miles from Marley Station and is anchored by Value City Department Store. Stores have come and gone in the past few years, and on most weekdays, the mall is almost deserted.

Only four of the original stores -- Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Lerner Shops, Da-Mar Shoes and Headfirst -- remain, said Karen Pospisil, mall marketing manager.

Rouse Co. officials put the mall in Glen Burnie up for sale a couple of weeks ago, and mall managers told merchants about the impending sale Monday.

"This is a hometown mall that people have supported for years and years, and someone is going to come in here and fill the mall, and we're going to go on," said Betty Rau, owner of Betty's Bake Shop and president of Harundale Mall Merchants Association. "I don't think it's going anywhere."

Rouse Co. spokeswoman Cathy Lickteig said the sale of the 368,000-square-foot mall is part the Columbia-based company's efforts to focus on developing regional malls and getting rid of smaller projects.

"We feel this property would do better in the hands of another owner," she said. "We are used to managing very large properties."

Rouse's $4.7 billion worth of properties includes more than 200 in 24 states, including nine in Maryland. Many of the malls are upscale, regional malls such as Owings Mills, The Mall in Columbia and White Marsh.

Two months ago, Rouse put its first and smallest retail project, the 88,000-square-foot Talbottown Shopping Center in Easton, up for sale. Ms. Lickteig said it and Harundale have drawn interest, but no buyers.

Harundale "will always have a special place in our history books," Ms. Lickteig said. "But we felt it was time to hone in a bit and concentrate on what we do best."

With 52 stores, the mall is 80 percent occupied. But in the last year and a half, five stores have left and one has moved in.

"This is not a regional mall. It will not be a regional mall. It is a community mall," said Bill Beatson, a national retail developer based in Annapolis. "People at a regional mall will drive an hour. People will not drive an hour to go to Harundale Mall."

Merchants said they hope the new owner will renovate and market the center as a community mall.

"We're just hoping that the new ownership will put new focus on the mall and that things will improve," said Jerry Warner, who owns Player Sports Collectibles.

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