Showing posts with label Bus Econ retail shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bus Econ retail shopping. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eagle Archive: Shopping for a silver anniversary present for TownMall

Eagle Archive: Shopping for a silver anniversary present for TownMall

It was Wednesday, March 4, 1987, at 12:45 p.m. that Cranberry Mall — now known as TownMall of Westminster, on Route 140 at Center Street — held its much-anticipated grand opening.

"Cranberry Mall was a long time in coming to Carroll County," recalled a story in the Baltimore Sun in 2000. "A sign planted in farmland flanking Route 140 had boasted that a shopping center was coming soon, but for 15 years nothing happened."

Then it was in 1985 that a New York-based developer bought the land and broke ground for the shopping center, according to newspaper accounts.

Construction continued in earnest in 1986 on the $36 million, 428,392-retail square foot facility. The March 4, 1987, edition of the Gettysburg Times reported that the mall created "close to 1,000 jobs ... (and) generated $9 million in local contracts. Projected tax revenues include $2.6 million in sales taxes, $1.6 million in income taxes and $543,000 in property taxes." …,0,6391220.story

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

TownMall of Westminster celebrates its 25th birthday By Kevin Dayhoff March 11, 2012

On Friday afternoon, March 2, 2012, local community leaders, led by Bob Mathers of WTTR got together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the TownMall of Westminster.

Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz and police chief Jeff Spaulding joined Carroll County Commissioners Robin Frazier, Dave Roush, and Haven Shoemaker for the celebration.

Also participating in the event was Julianna M. Albowicz, a representative of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin and the TownMall General Manager Robyn Clark.

Older folks in the greater Carroll community can still remember the excitement when, on Wednesday, March 4, 1987 at 12:45 p.m. the Cranberry Mall, now known as the TownMall of Westminster located on Route 140 at Center Street in Westminster, held a long awaited – and much-anticipated grand opening.

On March 4, 2000, Baltimore Sun writer Jennifer McMenamin reported, “Cranberry Mall was a long time in coming to Carroll County -- a sign planted in farmland flanking Route 140 had boasted that a shopping center was coming soon, but for 15 years nothing happened.

“When a New York-based developer bought the land in 1985 and broke ground for the shopping center, local economic development officials heralded it as a regional attraction that would bring 1,000 jobs and generate $2.6 million a year in sales taxes.”

According to Commissioner Shoemaker, 12,000 tons of steel from South Carolina, 65,000 sq. ft. of marble tile from Italy for the floors, and 50 miles of electrical cable, were used in the $36 million spent on the construction and development of the mall.

On behalf of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Shoemaker read a county proclamation and shared a few personal observations; including the point that the TownMall also serves as a social gathering place for older folks and not just teenagers…

The mall has seen many changes since it opened as the first and to this day, the only fully enclosed shopping facility in Carroll County.

It was also that year that Carroll County celebrated its 150th anniversary with a schedule of festivities that lasted throughout the year and included a visit by Roy Rodgers on May 30.

In hindsight, as I can best remember, the opening of the regional mercantile center was not necessarily part of the Carroll County birthday festivities that year, although it should have because it actually fits well in the history of county.

In the second-half of the 1700s, especially after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, Carroll County and the Westminster area quickly gained importance in the central-Maryland and mid-Atlantic area as a regional mercantile center – in particular for pioneers headed west to the then-frontier of western-Pennsylvania, Ohio and beyond.

According to numerous history accounts, including the March 4, 1987 edition of the Gettysburg Times, the grand opening celebration continued until Saturday, March 7 and included entertainment and guest appearances by local community leaders and elected officials.

In 1987 the mall was the first and - twenty-five years later – the only fully enclosed regional shopping center in Carroll County.

Construction had begun in earnest in 1986 on the $36 million, 428,392-retail square foot facility located on Center Street at the intersection of Routes 27 and 140, in the northern end of Westminster. It was reported at the time that it was the sixth mall built in Maryland by the New York-based Shopco Group.

The Gettysburg Times reported that in 1987 the mall created “close to 1,000 jobs … and … generated $9 million in local contracts. Projected tax revenues include $2.6 million in sales taxes, $1.6 million in income taxes and $543,000 in property taxes.”

In March 1987, the mall was built to accommodate 89 stores. At the time of the grand opening, 35 stores were open for business, “with about 60 percent of the space (in the mall) currently leased… including two of the three anchor stores, Caldor and Leggett,” according to the Gettysburg Times.

The third anchor was to have been Hutzler’s department store, which had leased space before the mall opened, but then, unfortunately, it went bankrupt.

However, the space that had been set aside for Hutzler’s was quickly snapped-up by Sears that opened shortly after the opening.

Five-years later, Kerry O’Rourke reported for the Baltimore Sun on March 15, 1992, “Cranberry Mall celebrates its fifth anniversary this month with 94 percent of its space leased and retail sales on the rise. Sales at the shopping mall increased 3 percent from 1990 to 1991, a year when other Baltimore-area centers saw a decline, an industry spokesman said.

“The opening of Montgomery Ward & Co. -- the mall's fourth anchor store -- in November 1990 was a boost for the center... About 2,500 people visit Cranberry Mall on a typical day… The 525,000-square-foot center employs 500 to 600 people… Cranberry Mall is owned by Shearson Shopco Malls Limited Partnership, based in New York. The owners paid $444,759 in property taxes for 1991-1992, county records show… Mall receipts -- excluding sales at the anchors -- were about $30 million last year…”

However the decade of the 1990s were not kind to regional malls and the TownMall was not spared from the vagaries of a changing marketplace. It was important that the mall change with the times.

When I took office as a Westminster councilmember in May 1999, vacancies at the TownMall, according to old mall file documents, had climbed to 25 percent in 1999 after Caldor closed in the 1998-1999 time period. Two years later, in 2001, Montgomery Ward also closed adding to a feeling of ‘emptiness’ at the mall…

A March 19, 2003 article in the Baltimore Sun reported, “The mall has lost major tenants such as Montgomery Ward, Caldor and CVS Pharmacy within the past five years. It lost more than $20 million in value when Cranberry Properties MM Corp. purchased the 525,000- square-foot mall at Route 140 and Route 27 in April 2000 from Shopco Regional Malls for $33.5 million. Shopco (Shearson Shopco Malls Limited Partnership,) had bought the mall in 1988 for $53.8 million.

In the late summer of 2001, the city of Westminster was approached by mall’s representatives to discuss revitalizing the shopping facility. Part of the proposed revitalization required certain zoning changes.

The city of Westminster responded quickly. On November 27, 2001, the management company for the mall thanked the city “for unanimously approving text amendments (for the) TownMall of Westminster’s zoning regulations. Indeed, it is rare for a local government to respond in such a swift manner, which demonstrates the City’s collective vision for revitalizing (the) TownMall. As you know, these text amendments are vital to securing prospective tenants…”

The next spring, on May 9, 2002, it was announced that Boscov’s would take over the area vacated by Montgomery Wards. A May 10, 2002 Baltimore Sun article reported, “The Pennsylvania-based department store will tear down the existing structure and start from scratch, adding a second floor -- and the mall's first escalator -- to become the mall's premier retailer at 178,545 square feet… while creating at least 400 jobs. The mall has 54 tenants besides Boscov's…”

In comparison, the Sun noted, “Sears stands at 70,060 square feet and Belk (Leggett’s) at 65,282 square feet.” The March 19, 2003 Sun article noted that at 178,545 square feet, size of the new Boscov’s store is - almost a third of the mall.

The grand opening for Boscov’s was held on April 6, 2003.

In recent years, as the economy has faltered and retail marketing has been challenged, the worldwide management firm of Jones Lang LaSalle has been called upon to lead the TownMall into the next twenty-five years.

Adapting to constant change has been a persistent marketing necessity in recent years as consumer expectations have changed as quickly as market conditions and the weather.

At celebration ceremonies last Friday, Robyn J. Clark, the mall’s longstanding general manager observed, “Over the years, TownMall has gone through some changes.”

Now that was an understatement. Yet as a testimony to the approach of Ms. Clark, the mall’s leadership and management team, and Jones Lang LaSalle, “The mall currently has 85 merchants and 20 of them were here back in 1987… Zales, American Greetings, Belk, Boardwalk Fries, Claire’s, Deb Shop, Foot Locker, FYE, Gordon’s, Hair Cuttery, Littman’s, Payless Shoes, Piercing Pagoda, Radio Shack, Regal Cinema, Ritz Camera, Sterling Optical, Subway,  Things Remembered & Villa Pizza…”

In recent years, according to the mall’s website, “A 2006 interior and exterior renovation included a new inside color scheme, new mall entrances and in 2007 new pylon and exterior signage and in 2010 the addition of Dick's Sporting Goods.

“Anchored by a two-story Boscov's, Belk, and Sears, TownMall is also complemented by Regal Cinemas, a renovated food area and Dick's Sporting Goods.

“Key retailers at TownMall of Westminster include PacSun, Bath & Body Works, rue21, Christopher and Banks, New York & Company, F.Y.E., Journeys and The Children's Place.”

Today, the TownMall employs over 500 workers – in addition to providing a place for older senior citizens like Commissioner Shoemaker, to have a place to mall-walk, no matter what the weather is like outside.

When he is not hanging-out at the mall with Commissioner Shoemaker and listening to Led Zeppelin, Ozzie Osbourne, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Carrie Underwood on his iPod, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at

Kevin Dayhoff also spoke at the March 2, 2012 event. In full disclosure, Dayhoff served on several Carroll County development, agriculture and environmental committees during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, when the TownMall was being developed – and as a Westminster Common Council member from 1999 – 2001 and the mayor of Westminster from 2001-2005.

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