Owners of Canton Crossing, the new development now making its way through planning approvals in the city, are gearing up to announce two anchors: Harris Teeter and Target.
A city development source said Friday the two chains are ready to ink leasing deals with Chesapeake Real Estate Group and BCP Investors LLC, principals of the new ownership team of the 31-acre waterfront site located near the First Mariner Tower just off of Boston Street.
Plans call for about 275,000 square feet of retail space to be developed in the first phase of construction there, on land previously owned by Exxon Mobil.
The Harris Teeter and Target stores would open by 2013, if all planning hearings and the Planned Unit Development proposal for the area are approved before the City Council wraps up its 2011 legislative session on Dec. 5.
It would be the second Harris Teeter in the city — the upscale grocer is opening its first location on Dec. 7 at the new McHenry Row mixed use development in Locust Point.
Rising above the chaos also known as the Towson round-about, the newly renovated and named Towson City Center stands as a new, true-blue landmark in Baltimore County.
Once known as the Investment Building, the structure had a troubled past. It once was known as the “sick building” and was vacated in 2002 after county and state workers there raised a ruckus and filed lawsuits over breathing and other respiratory illnesses they claimed were related to certain elements in the building.
Investigators found no basis for those charges, but some county offices were moved anyway, about five miles south on York Road to Drumcastle.
What a difference a decade makes.
Renovation work there is in full swing and includes “stripping the building down to the steel” and removing everything except the elevators and the elevator shafts, according to county spokeswoman Fronda Cohen. The new look, with tinted blue glass, adds to the bright, revamped image, she added.
And there are new tenants. This week, Caves Valley officials announced that Towson University will lease four floors to relocate clinics from its College of Health Professions into the building. Towson U’s alternative FM radio station, WTMD, is in negotiation to occupy an annex of the main building for its new studios.
Caves Valley Partners is also going to locate its offices there along with a new farm-to-table restaurant, Cunningham Kitchen.
Arsh Mirmiran, a Caves Valley official, said the group is dedicated to revamping the site, which will also help in the renewal of Towson’s business center. Nearby, the giant retail side of the Towson Commons still remains vacant, limiting the county’s economic development efforts on the main drag portion of York Road.
Towson University had been eyeing an expansion into that space, but Cohen said this week those negotiations had stalled.
The Towson City Center has been outfitted with a glass façade that has a royal blue tint. The modern structure has also been updated in green — environmentally friendly features, that is. The 160,000 square-foot building has about 300 parking spaces.
Elsewhere in Towson, other openings are also taking place.
This week, the first Baltimore-area branch of the Blue Ridge Bank opened at the corner of Washington and Allegheny avenues in the Nottingham Building.
Blue Ridge has assets of $145 million and is based in Frederick.
“Having Blue Ridge Bank establish its first Baltimore area branch here is a testament to Towson’s strength as a place to do business,” crowed Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz at the ribbon cutting Wednesday.
Last week, renovations at the former DuClaw Brewing Co. restaurant on the waterfront in Fells Point were completed, paving the way for the opening of Bond Street Social.
MacKenzie Contracting announced the work on the 7,600-square-foot space located at 901 S. Bond St.
The new digs are made special by unique light fixtures, four interior fireplaces and a custom gas fire pit. Bond Street Social’s Executive Chef Neill Howell has created a menu of smaller “social plates” to put forth European, Latin, Asian, and local Chesapeake Bay cuisine.
The restaurant has three bars and seating for 100.
This week’s announcement that Syms and Filene’s Basement have filed for bankruptcy and plan to close all stores has raised some eyebrows locally.
Filene’s Basement has a location at 600 E. Pratt Street, in a prime space near the Power Plant and the National Aquarium, which survived a previous shuttering of other retail outlets in the chain because of an outstanding lease.
Now, the continuing weak economy has caught up to it.
Rene F. Daniel, principal of Trout Daniel & Associates and a national retail expert, said the fallout is part of the continuing economic malaise in the U.S.
Sadly, another one bites the dust – even if the Boston-based, legendary Filene’s Basement first opened in 1909. Filene’s Basement plunged into bankruptcy two years ago and was purchased by the discount chain Syms.
Now, both are on a short time table.
“It might close in a couple of months,” Daniel said, of the local store, which was never a major retail attraction despite its stellar location.
“I don’t think people go to the Inner Harbor to go to Filene’s,” he said. “They go to Filene’s because it’s at the Inner Harbor.”
Subsequently, the now-closed Filene’s Basement location at the Hunt Valley Town Center, Daniel said, was “ludicrous.”
Overall, Daniel said the retail industry is still encased in fiscal misery — no matter the location.
“I think the problem is beyond retail,” he said. “It’s an economy problem.”
TIDBITS: The Center for Research on the Changing Earth System Inc. has leased just over 1,000 square feet at the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Research Park, bwtech@UMBC. Merritt Properties brokered the deal … The Howard County Council is launching an update of the county’s master plan, a process that takes place every 10 years. Widening Route 1 is a possibility … If you see a sign that says “History Was Made Here” in Baltimore County, thank Rubeling & Associates, which is handing them out to mark the architecture and interior design firm’s 30th anniversary. The signs are at Boys Latin School, Ruck Funeral Home and the St. James Academy and St James Church in Monkton, where Ruebling officials have worked since 1981 … While we’re on birthdays, sources report that Saturday is the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Roy Rogers. This cowboy crooner and actor who made his mark alongside wife, Dale Evans, and, of course, horse Trigger and faithful dog, Bullet, also spawned a chain of fast food restaurants, many in Baltimore.