Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Strange neighbors...

Pre-construction work is underway for a new big box shopping center at Rt. 175 and I-95. Dubbed Gateway Overlook, the development will have something heretofore unseen in such places: residents.

The 123-acre project, Gateway Overlook, will include 66 residential units and at least two so-called big-box stores that will anchor the commercial component and serve as magnets, or customer draws, for the remaining retailers.

Howard County government sources said they believe the two anchors will be Costco Wholesale Corp. and Lowe's Cos. Inc. There also is speculation that Trader Joe's, a specialty grocery chain, will locate at the site. Gateway Overlook is being developed by Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc., which acquired the property as part of its $12.6 billion acquisition of the Rouse Co. 15 months ago.

Dennis W. Miller, vice president and general manager of Columbia for the developer, declined to say if Costco and Lowe's have committed to the project.

"We're still negotiating with several tenants," he said. But Miller acknowledged that the giant retailers are "two users we are talking with."

It will be interesting to see how they make residences and big box stores compatible. All we're told in the story is that the residences will be attached and not single family homes.

Also interesting is the fact that GGP is being tight-lipped about Lowe's, especially considering that the home improvement warehouse was mentioned by the Post in a story about this development written in October. As I said back then, it seems strange to have a Lowe's (and apparently a Costco) within a mile or so of a Home Depot and BJ's.

While I'm ambivalent about this project in general, I was happy to see this:

Trader Joe's - or TJ's as it commonly referred to - also is the subject of speculation. One county official declared the chain would open at Gateway Overlook, but then hedged.

"I was told by someone in the commercial-retail industry that Trader Joe's has a deal to go into the new center," said County Councilman Ken Ulman.

Ulman said he asked whether the agreement is firm. "And I was told, 'Yes, it's a done deal.'"

BusinessWeek reported that TJ's strategy of offering "eclectic and upscale foodstuffs for the wine and cheese set at down to earth prices" has proved "phenomenally lucrative."

A Trader Joe's would certainly be a welcome addition to my regular shopping agenda, even if I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a member of the "wine and cheese set." Well, unless by wine you mean Mad Dog 20/20 and by cheese you mean individually wrapped slices of American.


MerriweatherRaven said...

I love the Bananna Red.

Reda said...

What I find even more bizarre is that there's a Best Buy (Columbia Crossing) and a Costco (Arundel Mills) nearby.

What's the deal?

P.S: Great blog (just discovered it)

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