Mall zoning change OK'd

2nd floor approved for former site of Montgomery Ward

Prospective tenant in talks

Officials say search for new retailer was `going nowhere'

November 27, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Westminster's Common Council approved a rezoning request last night that will allow TownMall of Westminster to build a second floor atop the former Montgomery Ward store and lure a new retailer.

Neither mall representatives nor city officials would identify the prospective tenant. But the zoning change extends the maximum height of the shopping center from 50 to 75 feet - enough to add a second floor.

Mall officials, who say they are close to an agreement with a national retailer for the Wards space, said they needed the zoning change to seal the deal.

"Without this, our deals were going nowhere," said Michelle T. Berliner, an associate director of asset management for Strategic Resources Corp., the mall's owner. "This enables us to finalize our deals."

Mall owners next will file an amended site plan with the city reflecting the zoning changes, according to their attorney, David Bowersox.

The rezoning also will change the mall's parking requirement from five parking spaces per 1,000 feet of lease space to four parking spaces and raise the permitted height of signs outside the mall.

At a public hearing preceding the council's decision, the only speakers were three mall representatives.

Built in 1987, the 525,000- square-foot TownMall is the county's largest enclosed shopping center. The shopping center is anchored by the Belk and Sears department stores, and has struggled with numerous vacancies in the past few years.

Also last night, the council awarded a $2.2 million contract to Kinsley Construction Inc. of York, Pa., to build a 163-space parking deck behind the former Farmers Supply property downtown.

In addition, the council formally enacted the rezoning ordinance for 70 acres of the former Koontz property on Route 140 to allow the developer, who is building 188 houses on the property, to use smaller residential lots and provide more open space.

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