Baltimore-based International Furniture Liquidators said yesterday that it has signed a 10-year lease for 110,000 square feet in the vacant Montgomery Ward building at Security Square Mall after being given 30 days' notice to leave by its current landlord at Reisterstown Road Plaza.
"I had to find space very fast," said Simon Sadoun, who owns the 3-year-old furniture store. "I found a good location."
He had not been thinking of expanding before he received the eviction notice nine days ago, he said.
Sadoun said International Furniture will close its 80,000-square-foot store at Reisterstown Road Plaza by March 31, and he expects it to reopen at the new location by May 1.
Security Square's location and proximity to other furniture stores make it an attractive choice for International Furniture, said Deirdre Moore, mall vice president and general manager, who called yesterday's announcement "a joy." The mall is visible from the Baltimore Beltway, Interstate 70 and Security Boulevard.
"When people go to buy furniture, this retail sector right here is a destination," Moore said, adding that International Furniture is a good choice for the mall.
"When you look at the retailers and look at who has performed strongly during a slow economic period, it has been value-oriented stores," she said.
Mark Millman, president of the Lutherville-based Mill- man Search Group retail consulting firm, said he believes that the furniture store's move will help Security Square and might help fill the vacancy created when J.C. Penney Co. closed its outlet in August because of restructuring.
"It's going to drive traffic to Security Square Mall, which definitely needs new blood, new traffic," he said.
International Furniture Liquidators sells contemporary furniture at a range of prices, said Sadoun. Most of the furniture is imported from countries such as China, France, Germany and Malaysia. The store will fill one of Security Square's two vacant anchor slots. The mall's five current anchors include the Hecht Co., Sears, Roebuck and Co., Burlington Coat Factory, Old Navy and an eight-screen General Cinema.
The slot had been vacant since Montgomery Ward declared bankruptcy and closed in March 2000.
About 20,000 square feet of retail space and a 15,000-square-foot automotive facility in the Montgomery Ward building remain unleased, said Michael B. Glick, a principal of Baltimore-based Security Wards LLC, the company that bought the building for $2.1 million in December.
The remaining retail space faces Security Boulevard and will most likely be divided into 2,000- to 5,000-square-foot stores, said Edward F. Goldmeier, a principal at Corridor RF&S Real Estate LLC, the Baltimore company responsible for renting the location.
Lutherville-based Mid-Atlantic Realty Trust "had great success in leasing out these small stores" facing the Montgomery Ward building on Security Boulevard about a year ago, Goldmeier added. That space was vacated when Hechinger's closed in 1999.
Towson-based Continental Realty Corp., which manages Reisterstown Road Plaza, will renovate the building where International Furniture is located as soon as the business leaves. The space formerly housed a Hechinger's. Marketing director Leigh Kramer said Continental plans to lease the building to a permanent tenant, and has been searching actively for new clients since the hardware store declared bankruptcy and went out of business in 1999.
This is one of several changes to Reisterstown Road Plaza. Continental announced in October that Home Depot would build a 95,000-square-foot store with an 18,700-square-foot garden center behind the mall.