86-store shopping center opening today in Bowie

Its `main-street-style' layout is 100% leased, includes Hecht's, Sears

November 09, 2001|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

Bowie Town Center, a "main-street-style" shopping center with 86 stores in Prince George's County, will officially open today.

The mall operators, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, said it's the county's first major center to open in years. It's also the company's first that incorporates traditional department stores in an outdoor retail center.

The 760,000-square-foot center on Route 197 held a "soft" opening Oct. 18, when it quietly opened its doors and got the shops up and running without fanfare.

Retailers anchoring the center are the Hecht Co., Sears, Roebuck and Co., the Gap Inc.'s Old Navy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. A Safeway supermarket and Best Buy electronics store are expected in 2002.

All but three small shops are open in the center, which is 100 percent leased. All stores, except the food court, open to the outside.

Thomas J. Schneider, senior vice president of development for Simon, said the company was trying to create a unique and appealing environment for shoppers.

"Times change, people change, and basically, to a degree we are competing for people's leisure time, so it's important to be mindful of the place you're creating as well as the retail venue you're creating," he said.

Most of the customers are expected to come from Prince George's County.

Simon acquired the land in 1995 and began work on the center about 15 months ago. It will compete with Annapolis Mall and shopping in Washington, company officials said.

Simon, a real estate investment trust and one of the largest mall owners in the nation, intends to open similar main street-style centers in Texas and Florida. It opened Arundel Mills, an off-price mall in Anne Arundel County, in November 2000.

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