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Business lags as Rotunda changes continue

The Rotunda these days is but a shell of its former self. The North Baltimore retail and office complex was hit hard when the Giant Food store closed its doors to move about a mile away to the Green Spring Tower Shopping Center in a former Super Fresh site. Mid-morning one day this week, there were fewer than a dozen shoppers at the Rotunda. The hallways, once bustling with retail, were empty. “It’s not much traffic,” lamented Fariba Sadgdi, manager at the Hair Cuttery. “To me, there is no reason for people to come here except for the movie theater.” Sadgdi said there is a “98 percent chance” that her shop will be the next defection from the Rotunda, moving to the Green Spring Tower Shopping Center just like Giant in the near future. She said the shop’s management has had little to no contact from the mall’s owners, Hekemian & Co., saying, “We’re dangling. We don’t know what’s going on. Business is down 25 percent.” Chris Bell, vice president for development at Hekemian was unavailable for comment. Nearby, Sheldon Pearlman, owner of Amazing Spiral, a novelty book and toy store, said the loss of Giant at the Rotunda had slowed traffic. Striving to remain optimistic, Pearlman said the Rotunda Cinema would soon add a fourth screen that would bring in more patrons over the summer with some popular films getting ready to premier. In response, he said his store has extended its hours to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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