Joppatowne plans rally to attract new grocery

Community supports deteriorating retail center

February 16, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Joppatowne community is set to rally around its flagging shopping center Feb. 23 in hopes of attracting a new grocery store to the plaza at U.S. 40 and Joppa Farm Road.

The event is set to begin at 2 p.m. in the plaza parking lot, where those who attend can sign petitions asking for a new grocery store and revitalization of the shopping center. The rally had been scheduled for today but was changed because of inclement-weather forecasts.

The building that housed a grocery store has been closed for several years, and Kmart has announced plans to close its 105,000-square-foot store in the spring. Residents are concerned that the community hub could fall into further decline and force smaller businesses in the plaza to shut down, too.

Dion F. Guthrie, the Democratic county councilman who represents the area, said he and members of the community met with Cordish Co. officials recently to discuss the plaza's future and learned that although Kmart's closing is on schedule, the building could be divided to provide a larger space for a new grocery store.

The empty grocery store space in the shopping center is only about 20,000 square feet, Guthrie said, making it tough to attract new, super-store-sized chains.

The center is especially vital to the nearby apartment community, many of whose residents are elderly or don't have cars and depend on walking to the plaza, Guthrie said.

Gloria Moon, a member of the Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council, said the community plan recently drafted depends on a grocery store in the plaza.

"Local folks just ask that they can shop where they live," Moon said.

At 3 p.m., a plane will fly over to photograph the assembled crowd, and the pictures will be sent to the Cordish Co. and Food Lion, the grocery store chain talking with Cordish about leasing space in the plaza, Guthrie said.

He added that he will send fliers about the event to county and state elected officials, as well as Cordish Co. officials, and hopes to see a strong turnout in support of Joppatowne.

"We'll see who has the community at heart," he said.

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