Reisterstown Rd. Plaza to get a Home Depot

It's to be built behind a partly redone mall

October 30, 2001|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Home Depot, the nation's largest home improvement retailer, plans to build a store at Reisterstown Road Plaza in Baltimore, an addition that would kick off a partial overhaul of the 39-year-old mall.

To move ahead, the Atlanta-based chain needs City Council approval. The council is considering amending the planned unit development ordinance governing land use at the Reisterstown Road site.

The new store, to be built behind the existing mall, would be 95,000 square feet with an 18,700-square-foot garden center. It would employ 175 workers and open no earlier than the end of next year, said John Simley, a Home Depot spokesman.

Home Depot also said yesterday that it has purchased a former Hechinger on Mountain Road in Pasadena, across from Marley Station mall. The retailer plans to convert the store to a 91,000-square-foot Home Depot by Jan. 10.

Home Depot, which has 28 stores in Maryland, is growing fast in the state, with openings planned in Edgewood and Ocean City this year and in Eldersburg and on Perring Parkway in Northeast Baltimore next year.

The store planned for Reisterstown Road Plaza would be the second Home Depot in Baltimore. Its first, on Eastern Avenue, opened in 1994.

"Right now, the catalyst for changes [at the mall] is that Home Depot project," said Leigh Kramer, marketing director for Continental Realty Corp., which manages the 708,000-square-foot mall. The mall once had Hecht's and Stewart's, then Caldor and Hechinger, as anchors. It now has National Wholesale Liquidators, Burlington Coat Factory, Food King and Classic Furniture.

"With the size of the property, we have numerous ideas on the drawing board," Kramer said. "We hope for some substantial change and some re-leasing and some renovation, but I wouldn't call it a complete renovation."

Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, who represents the area around the mall and is sponsoring the bill to amend the PUD, said a second City Council bill, closer to being approved, would allow for a 60,000-square-foot grocery store in the front of the mall, plus additional, free-standing retailers.

"These changes will be something to serve the community in terms of regional retail," and help stabilize the neighborhood, Spector said.

Home Depot chose the Reisterstown Road Plaza site because sales at its Owings Mills and Catonsville stores show large increases in sales to customers from the city near Reisterstown Road Plaza, Simley said.

"Those stores are extracting a lot of sales from the city of Baltimore," he said. "We would like to get closer to our market."

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