Westminster approves new stores Zoning commission OKs site plans for west side lots

August 14, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans yesterday for a Safeway supermarket and a new Lowe's hardware store on the city's west side, where residents are many but retailers are few.

The commission unanimously approved site plans for a 150,000-square-foot Lowe's home improvement superstore and the 88,000-square-foot College Square shopping center, which will house the Safeway food and drug store and several other businesses.

Construction on both projects is expected to begin next month.

The College Square shopping center will be built on Route 140, near Western Maryland College, on land owned by WMC Development Corp., the college's for-profit enterprise.

The developer of the center, Black Rock Associates Inc. of Butler, will be required to install a traffic light at Route 140 and Route 31 and extend Western Maryland College Drive to West Main Street.

The $8 million shopping center will open in June 1999, said Dixon Harvey, president of Black Rock.

College Square also is expected to contain a bookstore, dry cleaner, hair salon and restaurant, Harvey said.

The planned 55,000-square-foot Safeway supermarket won't be the company's first venture into Westminster. The food chain had a store on the city's east side for several years, but closed it in 1988 at a time when the chain was going through a leveraged buyout, company officials said. Safeway was also forced to close several other stores, including one in Bel Air.

The supermarket chain decided to return to Westminster, in part, because of the recent explosion of new neighborhoods on the west side, Harvey said.

Lowe's, which is relocating behind Weis Markets, must also make roadway improvements at its new location -- a 20-acre parcel along Route 140 owned by Church of the Open Door.

Lowe's will widen two intersections -- Route 140 and Malcolm Drive, and Route 97 and Route 140 -- and extend Center Street to the eastern edge of the parcel. The street now ends at Malcolm Drive.

Company officials said it is not clear what will happen to the existing Lowe's store near Englar Business Park on Route 140, a few miles from the church property.

"We have had a few calls, but we won't start negotiating until we've acquired the new property and started construction," said Russ Collins, site assessment manager for Lowe's.

The hardware chain opened in Westminster in February 1993. The company, which is based in North Wilkesboro, N.C., has 460 stores in 26 states.

The new Lowe's is expected to open early next spring, Collins said, and construction will cost $8 million to $9 million.

The projects approved yesterday are consistent with the city's comprehensive land-use plan, which was adopted last month. The plan notes a general shortage of commercial space throughout the Westminster area and a specific lack of stores on the west side, where roughly half of the city's 16,000 residents live.

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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