Rerun for old movie venue

Ex-Dundalk drive-in sold as site for stores

January 20, 2007|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun reporter

Office developer St. John Properties is planning a $25 million project to transform the site of the former North Point drive-in theater in Dundalk into a shopping center with big-box style retailers as redevelopment accelerates in eastern Baltimore County.

St. John Properties signed a contract to buy 20 acres along North Point Boulevard and is marketing the site to retailers, said Gerard J. Wit, a senior vice president of the Baltimore company.

"We believe the entire Dundalk peninsula has changing demographics for the positive and is presently underserved from a retail point of view," Wit said yester- day.

"This has very big potential for a number of uses, such as big-box, or wholesale or conventional grocer or drugstore, or it could be a lifestyle center," he added.

The site, which could accommodate about 200,000 square feet of retail, has sparked the interest of some retailers already, Wit said, though he declined to name them.

Big-box retailers are large discounters such as Target, Wal-Mart or Best Buy. St. John, which hopes to buy the site with a joint venture partner, expects to settle on the property by June.

The former drive-in theater is now the site of a large, weekend flea market, Wit said.

Eastern Baltimore County has seen an increase in private and government investment in recent years, thanks to strong demand for property near the waterfront. Aging and deteriorating housing and shopping centers have been redeveloped or replaced with newer homes and shops, said David S. Iannucci, executive director of Baltimore County's Department of Economic Development.

"The east side of Baltimore County in general has seen pretty dramatic upgrading in the past four years of retail and of residential development, so this is consistent with the interest we have seen from numerous local as well as national developers," Iannucci said.

Martin's Plaza shopping center has been redeveloped with a Target store. To the north in Middle River, Ryland Homes is building 800 townhouses at Miramar Landing. New, single-family homes at Waterview are being built on the former site of the World War II-era Riverdale Apartments.

And the Dundalk Village Shopping Center is being redeveloped and upgraded, including the renovation of former Section 8 apartments. Meanwhile, the county has invested in street and community center improvements.

"Clearly this is an area that's taking advantage of waterfront," Iannucci said. "A regular mix of restaurants and shopping alternatives will be very well-received."

St. John, founded in 1971 as MIE Properties, has developed and owns nearly 12 million square feet of flex, office, warehouse and retail space in Maryland and four other states.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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