Three prominent Bel Air retail locations have stood empty for the last several months, but the new year will bring new life to at least one of them.
A recent tip from Dagger reader “Vic” indicated that Mars Supermarkets would move into the former Super Fresh location in Bel Air Plaza, Midwest electronics retailer hhgregg would take over the one-time Circuit City building in Tollgate Marketplace, and a Whole Foods location would open in Giant’s former home in Tollgate Plaza. Don’t get excited yet—that’s not 100 percent true at the moment.
The tip was accurate on at least one count: an hhgregg representative confirmed that the company plans to open a new store at 680 Marketplace Drive, the former location of Circuit City, by early or mid-spring.
However, a Whole Foods spokeswoman flatly denied the rumor regarding the former Giant store, saying that “there are no current plans for a space in Bel Air, MD.”
That’s probably because a catering company is considering moving into the location using a long distance movers company. The idea is to turn it into a Richlin Ballroom-type event space, according to Bel Air Town Commissioner Terry Hanley. Hanley declined to name the interested company, but said the conversion from a grocery store—while somewhat extreme—could work.
Hanley said, “I think that kind of a place would do well.”
However, Hanley said there has been no movement or interest in the former Super Fresh location, which he said is still under lease to its former tenant. Mars Supermarkets CEO Christopher D’Anna did not return calls for comment.
The Indianapolis-based hhgregg sells electronics, appliances and mattresses (no, really), and has been aggressively moving into former Circuit City locations across the East Coast. Last July, the company said it would open between 20 and 22 new stores in fiscal year 2010, up from the 16 to 18 it originally planned, and 40 to 45 new stores in fiscal year 2011.
“During the past year, competitive dynamics within the consumer electronics industry and the real estate landscape have changed considerably, with a major competitor [Circuit City] exiting the market and substantial real estate availability in both new and existing markets,” the company said in a July release. “These changes have created significant opportunities for the company to expand at growth rates greater than previously projected.”
Though company representatives did not give specifics of the size of the Bel Air store or how many people it would employ, the company said a typical store is approximately 30,000 square feet and employs between 35 and 40 people. hhgregg operates 127 stores from Mississippi to Indiana and North Carolina.
Though the former Super Fresh, Circuit City, and Giant locations have stood empty for months, county officials have tried to entice new retailers to fill the void, said Harford County Director of Economic Development Jim Richardson.
“We have been reaching out to all these companies through this office and letting them know about Harford and why they need to be here, that we’re one of the few areas that’s growing economically,” Richardson said. “We’ve seeded and fertilized the ground, now we need to see what grows.”
A couple of things on my mind…
Why are we planning to build another grocery store on the last empty lot along 152/Rt.1 when there are 2 grocery stores sitting empty right up the street? There is also a bank on every corner – do we really need another?
The whole shopping center that houses Giant/Joanns/Michaels/B&N needs to widen it sparking spaces. They are very narrow which makes it hard to load groceries and infant carrier seats without hitting the car next to you. And, whats with the large rocks that were placed in the median strips? Someone is going to twist their ankle getting out of their car.
Also, I would love to see a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s move into Giants spot. We have lots of regular grocery stores to choose from but no speciatly ones like WF/TJ.
Wegman’s is building a new store in Abingdon across from the Wawa….why they couldn’t take over one of the existing buildings (Superfresh, maybe) instead of breaking new ground and building ANOTHER grocery store in the area, I don’t know.
Wegman’s are huge stores, much, much bigger than Superfresh.
Joseph Caruso says
Because Wegman’s, a private company, has a successful business plan that they have every right to deploy irrespective of your opinion.
Gee, thanks for the condescending reply, Joe. I’m well aware that they are a private company and can do what they want. I was commenting that there were existing empty spaces in the area that may have been possibilities rather than tearing down more trees and putting in another large building plus acres of parking lots.
I’ve never been in a Wegman’s so I didn’t know they were that much larger than a regular grocery store. Obviously if they’re that much larger than other grocery stores than the old Superfresh store wouldn’t work.
Bill P says
Not a bad thought.
However it seems like there is a lot of potential movement that could take place. I wonder if other businesses are already holding stakes in the existing buildings.
These are a few signs things will get better.
Wegmans is anchoring what is to be a huge retail center near the Wawa called The Boulevard at Box Hill. Check this out…
I wonder what else will come. Hopefully a few women’s apparel stores.
That certainly does look interesting.
Remember, you heard it from The Vic first. Confirmed for you this time last year that HH Gregg was coming & Mars was coming to the former Super Fresh site. HH Gregg came & Mars is now retrofitting the former Super Fresh. The rumored ‘catering business’ at the former Giant site was true but supposedly lease negotiations broke down. And it remains that an organic-type market is still interested in that space. Could it be Fresh Market since Whole Foods declined? The world of food is looking up in the Bel Air area. Wegmans is slated for a Sept opening. Harris Teeter or Safeway is on the way to Fallston. And could Target or Wal*Mart be eyeing Hickory now?
Phil Dirt says
As with Tony further below from February, I also heard Mars to SuperFresh first from Bel Air News and Views, and I see you now safely hedged your “Harris Teeter to Fallston” blockbuster prediction with Safeway, which is already in the area. Not a big stretch.
Bill P says
I love it! Bring on Wholefoods!
Glad to see more business/ jobs come in locally.
Anything that gives me another alternative to Best Buy has to be a good thing.
That Bel Air Giant location seems like a perfect fit for a Trader Joe’s.
The Baltimore Babe says
That would be perfect, for Trader Joes to come to Bel Air. Anyone going to make a call?
Aaron Cahall says
I would start with Jim Richardson, Harford County’s Director of Economic Development. He said his office has reached out to the large chain stores in hopes of selling them on Harford County.
Proud Dem says
There is one word to stop Trader Joe’s, Mars and Whole Foods
Terry Vettas says
We are a local Electronic Retailer and we usually are about 5-10% cheaper then Best Buy plus you get 110% better service come check us out 3802 Norrisville Rd. Elite Home Entertainment 410-692-7944. Hope to see you soon and have a great day!
Terry Vettas says
We are a local Electronic Retailer and we usually are about 5-10% cheaper then Best Buy plus you get 110% better service come check us out 3802 Norrisville Rd. Elite Home Entertainment 410-692-7944.
I also hope they are planning on more than one entrance/exit for this site.
Looking at the brochure on the link posted above, it looks like it will have 6 exits/entrances (1 on 924, 2 on Box Hill South Pkwy, and 3 on Box Hill Corporate Center Dr.) A couple of those look like they’ll be mainly for deliveries and not really for customers. It also looks like it scheduled to open spring 2011 and I think that’s also about the time when all the upgrades to the 924/24/95 interchange should be finished.
I cannot disclose my sources but Famous Dave’s BBQ is actively eyeing the site of the recently closed Uno’s at Belair Road and Route 24. Maybe folks that lost their jobs from Uno’s can catch on there. Not sure of the time frame of this.
just dropped in says
When did Uno’s close??? I was just there 2 weeks ago.
Famous Dave’s has purchased the Uno’s building and had numerous contractors at the site this week doing survey’s for a remodel. I suspect this will move pretty quickly.
native, not naive says
I heard a rumor last Summer that Trader Joes was eyeing the Super Fresh vacancy.
I totally agree with the poster who said the parking spaces need to be wider at Tollgate.
I’m very happy to hear that there are companies interested in expanding into Harford County; most of the rest of the nation wishes they had companies eyeing their properties. Let’s not screw this up oh great leaders…
The small (compact spaces) at the Tollgate Shopping Center by Giant were done to meet the parking requirement of the shopping center.
Compact spaces were the answer back in the 80’s and 90’s to address that fact that Americans were driving smaller cars. Now we are driving bigger cars and taking up 2 compact spaces. It kind of defeats the purpose.
If there would be major redevelopment of that part of the shopping center then the town would tell the developer to change the size of the spaces. If a store just moves in and uses the existing structure then I don’t believe the town can force(they can suggest) them to change the size of the spaces.
Re: RMR’s comment,
Could not agree more about the parking places at Tollgate, like they thought everybody drives an MG. They have caused me a confrontation with another parker and I’m sure many others. When I park there now I park way out to avoid the crowds
native, not naive says
We rarely go there anywhere near Christmastime, mainly because of the parking. The spots are even tight in my wife’s VW. Poor planning.
Mars takes over Super Fresh.
Harris Teeter to Fallston.
Martins Catering to Giant.
Is this what you want or is this what’s coming? What’s your source?
No Harris Teeter in Fallston and No Martin’s in Bel Air. read the Belair news and views blog for this story
i really like to ACME in the great Fallston Mall. i hope it survives after the new store across the street.
ACME will be closing the last week of Feb. No new store will be moving in to is place. Fallston Mall has nothing left.
wack a doodle says
That shopping center was outdated about 20 years ago. I had it’s place about the time that the Blue Bell Restaurant was in operation. It really needs some major work to the ingress/egress planning. Hopefully a new 152 & 1 interchange will take this into consideration so that the money doesn’t have to be spent again when there is a new tenant. Of course it’s the decision of the landlord but I think the blade of a bull dozer would be the best thing to assure a swift end to that shopping center’s misery. The tower over the Western Auto has been an eyesore ever since it was mauled by the tornado a few years ago.
I was just at the Acme tonight and they said 2/10 is thier last day but a new store has already signed and it is Harvey’s or something. I found Harvey’s is an associated with Food Lion. I also found the shopping center owners web site and it looks like it is in for major renovations.