Filling a void New supermarket: Safeway's outlet in Canton continues transformation of neighborhood.

August 31, 1996

BALTIMORE CITY is so woefully underserved by retailers that the opening of a new Safeway supermarket along Canton's waterfront is cause for celebration. If the store is successful, it may spur redevelopment of the neighboring American Can Co. complex on Boston and Hudson streets, which has been vacant for more than a decade.

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc. has an option to buy that triangular property from the Chicago-based can company. If the sale materializes, Struever would convert the 4.3-acre parcel to shops and offices by mid-1997.

In a city that is losing population, Canton is one of the few revival neighborhoods. As aging blue-collar residents have joined the exodus to the suburbs, yuppies have grabbed vacant rowhouses and renovated them. Meanwhile, enough new residences have been built for those who do not like old houses. As the neighborhood has gotten wealthier, its main retail area -- Canton Square -- has attracted trendy restaurants and boutiques.

Canton's transformation is likely to accelerate in the next few years as long-planned new housing and boating centers are built along the waterfront.

Until Safeway's opening, much of the southeast sector of the city was served by only one Canton supermarket and two in Highlandtown. Such absence of shopping choices may have been a contributing factor to the decline of neighborhoods around Patterson Park. Convenient shopping and good selection are, after all, among the reasons why many people consider living in a certain area.

Why Baltimore City is so unattractive to retailers is somewhat puzzling. Big hardware chains have largely avoided the city, which also has lost most of its book stores. And when Target, the nation's third largest discount chain, began its push into Maryland, Baltimore City was not among its 13 store sites.

Improving shopping for city residents ought to be one of the Baltimore Development Corp.'s highest priorities.

Pub Date: 8/31/96

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