Target readies city site designs

Mondawmin sought for Baltimore's first

December 12, 2006|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun reporter

Target Corp. will present the city's design panel this week with plans for what would be its first Baltimore store at Mondawmin Mall.

The retailer, known for its "cheap chic" styles, is listed as the big-box anchor for the mall on the latest agenda of the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel scheduled to meet Thursday.

The Minnesota-based retail chain didn't return calls last night.

A spokesman for General Growth Properties, the Chicago-based developer that owns Mondawmin, confirmed that the retailer would present "exterior designs" for a new store at the meeting. He cautioned, however, that it wasn't necessarily a done deal.

"The agenda speaks for itself, but whether that reflects any final decision I'm not prepared to talk about," said Jim Graham, director of public affairs for General Growth. "Yes, we're talking to Target about that location, and Target through the hearing is talking to the city about that location, but that doesn't necessarily reflect a final decision on their part."

Target is the latest national retailer to see potential in the shopping-starved city as the suburbs have become overbuilt. Best Buy recently opened a store at Lockwood Place on Pratt Street downtown, and Filene's Basement is scheduled to join the development soon. Home Depot has outlets at Reisterstown Plaza and on Eastern Avenue, while Wal-Mart Stores and Sam's Club now operate stores at Port Covington in South Baltimore.

General Growth has been talking to Target to become the main anchor in a $70 million renovation it has planned for the mall. General Growth hopes to attract more nationally recognized retailers to Mondawmin.

Plans for the mall, which opened in 1956 as Baltimore's first two-level shopping center, include a newly built 127,000- square-foot big-box retailer, a 28,000-square-foot junior anchor, a grocery store and two restaurants on parcels near the mall. The upgrades would also include better lighting inside and two landscaped main entrances, according to plans presented to the design panel.

"We're trying to make it more friendly and inviting," said David W. Benn, principal at Cho Benn Holback + Associates, the architectural firm for the project. "Now it's more of a vanilla box."

Retail experts and community groups have said redevelopment at the mall is long overdue. Once one of the city's premier shopping sites, it is now a hodgepodge of sneaker stores and small urban-wear shops.

Mondawmin is one of the city's few shopping sites with a large parking lot, making it more attractive for redevelopment. A lack of parking is one of the things that have made retailers reluctant to move into the city. Mondawmin is also convenient to many parts of the city and is easily accessible from Interstate 83.

Mondawmin is the site of a key bus hub and a Metro subway stop. It is also beside a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration office.

City planners have said they want to make the mall an example of transit-oriented development, a planning concept that concentrates new construction near major transit stops.

"This will be a tremendous economic engine for the community," Gary Cole, acting city planning director, said about redevelopment plans for Mondawmin.

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