Hunt Valley Mall makeover

May 27, 2000|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS - Hunt Valley Mall will become Hunt Valley Centre, a hybrid, two-level "power center" with a mix of big box stores, specialty shops and restaurants.

Retail developer Starwood Ceruzzi, the struggling mall's new owner, unveiled plans for a $40 million makeover at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention here, giving potential tenants a first glimpse of the project. The Connecticut-based developer bought the North Baltimore County center about a month ago from Equitable Life Assurance Society.

The existing anchor stores will remain, with Sears, Roebuck and Co. at one end and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Burlington Coat Factory and Dick's sporting goods at the opposite end, with the free-standing Hoyt Cinemas megaplex in the rear.

But the developer will eliminate the enclosed mall space between the anchors and bring in mostly large stores with entrances facing Shawan Road. The number of stores will depend upon the amount of space each retailer takes, with stores expected to average 25,000 square feet, said Kenneth A. Goldberg, senior vice president in Starwood Ceruzzi's Bethesda office.

Goldberg hopes to fill the center with retailers such as Borders or Barnes & Noble, Gap Inc. or Old Navy, A.C. Moore, Starbucks and home-furnishings stores. DSW shoe warehouse will move to a new space, he said. "We're talking to many, many, many tenants," he said.

Besides the larger stores, about 60,000 square feet of smaller specialty shops, including about four restaurants, will go on either side of an open-air covered walkway on a section of the second level. The design represents a departure from a pure power center, which typically consists of large, category-killer stores specializing in merchandise such as sporting goods or toys. Some of the existing mall specialty shops will likely move to that section, Goldberg said.

The plans are also a switch from the previous owner's idea for a value-oriented center. Equitable Life had begun remaking Hunt Valley in 1996, adding the Wal-Mart, Burlington Coat, the movie megaplex and free-standing restaurants. But a second phase, which was to have included a department store, other anchors and interior remodeling, never materialized.

Goldberg is calling Starwood Ceruzzi's vision a "lifestyle center." He believes, for instance, that the area can support more upscale restaurants. The project's new name reflects both the new design and a break from the past, he said.

"There was a tremendous stigma with Hunt Valley Mall," he said. "We want to remove that."

The mall, built in 1981, has struggled since losing anchor R.H. Macy & Co. in 1992 and then facing overwhelming competition from newer, expanding regional malls.

The center will get a new look, with store fronts and signs facing Shawan Road and a walkway along the second level. "Everything didn't face Shawan Road," Goldberg said. "Now, we're opening it up so there's visibility to people pulling in. Retailers are excited about it.`

He expects to announce the tenant lineup by the end of summer. When completed by the end of 2001 or in early 2002, the center will be just under 1 million square feet, about the size it is now.

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