Town gets 2nd plan for retail center Idea for The Centre at Hagerstown follows outlet mall proposal

November 12, 1996|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

A new proposal to build a second huge shopping center in Hagerstown could turn the town into a discount haven of Western Maryland in the next several years.

Hicks & Rotner Retail Inc. said yesterday that it will team up with McLean, Va.-based developer Petrie, Dierman, Kughn to build a 700,000-square-foot shopping center on 70 acres of farmland at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Interstate 81.

The $40 million power center would be far larger than the 500,000-square-foot Snowden Square Center in Columbia and several others in the Baltimore area and would be designed to attract consumers from a 15- to 30-mile radius, in West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, said David Ward, vice president of Hicks & Rotner.

No stores have yet signed leases with Hicks & Rotner for The Centre at Hagerstown, but Ward said, "if they are a large store we are talking to them." He hopes to sign up between 12 and 20 large stores and eight smaller restaurants or financial institutions.

A power center typically has a number of large discount stores such as Pet-Smart, Home Depot, BJ's Wholesale Club and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Prime Retail, a Baltimore based developer, has already proposed a shopping center in Hagerstown, with 60 outlet stores.

However, last week, a judge blocked construction of the center just south of Hagerstown near Interstate 70 and Route 65, saying Washington County shouldn't have rezoned the area for mostly commercial use. Prime Retail will appeal the decision.

William H. Carpenter Jr., president and chief operating officer of Prime Retail, welcomed the news of a second center because he said it would complement the outlet mall his firm is trying to build.

But he expressed some surprise at the size. "Just knowing the demographics, that is a massive undertaking," Carpenter said.

The Centre at Hagerstown would most probably be built in two stages, according to Phillip L. Ross, vice president of Petrie, Dierman, Kughn, unless there is enough demand from retailers that the entire center can be built at once. Construction is expected to begin next year.

The center would open sometime in 1998, perhaps by late summer.

The 70-acre parcel, at the northwest corner of the intersection of I-81 and U.S. 40, is part of a 400-acre cattle and grain farm owned by the family of the late Garland Groh.

The property is now zoned for retail, Ward said, but the developer will have to build a sewer line under a highway, an TTC expensive proposition.

Recently, some retail analysts have questioned whether power centers will survive if retailing changes and the large, specialized discounters become a thing of the past.

But Ward said some of the stores he is negotiating with have expressed interest in owning the property rather than leasing it. Such an arrangement would lessen the risk for the developer and the retail brokerage firm.

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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