Parole claims mall mantle

Opening tomorrow, expanded center is largest in county

October 31, 2007|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,sun reporter

The promise of Parole as a retail magnet is closer to being realized this week as Westfield Annapolis unveils a $150 million mall expansion of 60 stores and restaurants just in time to capitalize on the holiday shopping season.

Tomorrow's opening will make the mall the largest in Anne Arundel County, at 1.5 million square feet. The completion of the 240,000-square-foot addition on Westfield's north side comes as building has kicked into high gear at Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, a $400 million project of homes, shops and office space less than a mile from the mall.

At least 250 business and government leaders will attend tomorrow's opening, touching off four days of special events that include appearances at the new Under Armour store by Ravens star Ray Lewis and Olympic figure skater Kimmie Meissner.

As crews at Westfield worked furiously over the weekend, officials there said they were confident their ambitious 18-month project would be completed as scheduled. Ten stores are moving to the new wing; nine more stores and restaurants are not scheduled to be open until 2008.

"As we speak, stores are stocking merchandise," Lee Sterling, regional marketing director for the Westfield Group, the parent owner, said yesterday. "We are finishing up all sorts of things, painting and putting up window displays."

Westfield Group, an international shopping-center company based in Australia that owns 57 shopping centers in the United States, has signed up retailers Pottery Barn and H&M as the "mini-anchors" for the new wing facing Bestgate Road.

The expansion will also bring in new dining options, such as McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant and Noodles & Co. (Southwestern-themed Austin Grill is scheduled to open next year.)

Among the changes are:

Four parking areas with more than 1,000 new spaces. Many of the spots are on rooftop structures built next to the stores.

A circular gathering area near Macy's, previously a popular place for young children, has been converted into an amphitheater for children's shows and events. It includes an elaborate water feature with a bridge.

Two new main entrances including trellises.

Leather couches replacing wooden benches in some areas.

The children's play area overhauled with a maritime theme.

The expansion is expected to add more than 1,000 full- and part-time positions to the current 3,500 at the mall's 150 specialty shops, five anchors stores and 11-screen movie theater.

Westfield estimates that sales at the expanded mall will total more than a half-billion dollars annually. With the mall expanding by about 20 percent, Sterling said, Westfield expects a corresponding increase in sales.

The mall was built in 1980. Westfield acquired it in 1994, and over the next eight years it added several anchor stores including Nordstrom, Sears and Lord & Taylor, and the theater.

With the latest expansion, Westfield will pass Arundel Mills, which has more than 1.3 million square feet, as the county's largest mall.

Business and county leaders say the expansion of Westfield and the construction of the 2.1-million-square-foot Annapolis Towne Centre indicate the strength of the county's economy, as the increasing number of residents working in technical, defense and health care jobs demand high-end shopping choices.

County and state officials have pushed in recent years to develop Parole, just west of Annapolis. as a prominent district for high-density growth.

The first phase of Annapolis Towne Centre is expected to open next year. Some think the two retail centers on opposite sides of U.S. 50 will compete, but others say they will complement each other.

County Councilman Josh Cohen, a Democrat who represents Parole, said the homes and office space at Annapolis Towne Centre will provide economic stability for the growing retail sector. The town center will have a Target, a Whole Foods grocery store and a P.F. Chang's China Bistro.

"The combination of the mall's expansion and Annapolis Towne Centre reinforce each other in making Parole a regional economic engine as well as a shopping destination," Cohen said.

phill.mcgowan@baltsun.com

Westfield Annapolis has posted a list of events and promotions at the mall from tomorrow through Sunday on its Web site, www.westfield.com/annapolis.

Stores at the mall

The 240,000- square-foot Westfield Annapolis mall expansion will feature the following new retailers and restaurants:

New to the mall and in the expanded area

Aerie Alta Jewelers Ann Taylor Loft Austin Grill (opening 2008) CJ Watch Esprit Fossil Garage Guess H&M Hat World Janie and Jack Levi's? L'Occitane Martin + Osa McCormick & Schmick's Metropark Noodles & Company Perfumania Pottery Barn Quiksilver Ruehl Sephora Skechers Sole Mio Solstice Starbucks Teavana (opening 2008) Under Armour Vans The Walking Company Inc. Zumiez

Previously in the mall, but moving to the expansion with a prototype store

American Eagle Annapolis Tailor Banana Republic Franklin Covey Godiva Icing Hakky Shoe Repair Right Start Ritz Camera Sterling Optical

New to the mall, but in the existing center: Bare Escentuals Blanca Flora The Buckle (opening 2008) Chipotle Destination Relaxation The Disney Store (opening 2008) Downtown Locker Room (opening 2008) Grill Kabob Haagen Dazs (opening 2008) J. Crew Lucky Brand Jeans Lush (opening 2008) Madewell 1937 Pink by Victoria's Secret Pumpkin Patch (opening 2008) Salad Creations Shaw's Jewelers Swarovski (opening 2008)

Remodeled existing site with a new prototype store

Victoria's Secret Willams-Sonoma

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