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Boscov's will reopen at White Marsh Mall

Restaurant and Catering IndustryBankruptcyFinancially Distressed CompaniesMacy'sGeneral Growth Properties, Inc.JC Penney Company Inc.Sears

Boscov's department store will return to White Marsh Mall Oct. 7, filling the empty anchor spot the regional chain vacated nearly four years ago after it filed for bankruptcy.

"I'm glad we are returning to White Marsh Mall," Albert Boscov, the retailer's chairman and CEO and son of the founder, said in a statement. "It was a great store, and we look forward to creating a new, more exciting Boscov's in the Baltimore area."

The family-owned chain, based in Reading, Pa., once had half a dozen department stores in Maryland. After filing for bankruptcy protection in the summer of 2008, it closed stores in the Baltimore region at White Marsh Mall, Owings Mills Mall and Marley Station, just two years after taking over the spaces from Macy's.

Boscov came out of retirement to guide the bankrupt 91-year-old company back to profitability. It emerged from Chapter 11 in late 2009 and reopened a location in Eatontown, N.J., last fall, its first new store since the bankruptcy.

The White Marsh store will be its second.

Mall owner General Growth Properties chose Boscov's over several retail and restaurant concepts vying for the nearly 200,000-square-foot space, Lisa Bisenius, the mall's general manager, said Thursday.

"They were anxious to come back, and it so happened we were looking for a new tenant," Bisenius said. "It's definitely a boost."

General Growth did not control the former Boscov's space until last November, when it purchased the site.

Forever 21 had signed a lease for the vacant store and planned to take over the space in 2010, but the youthful-women's apparel retailer never went forward.

When General Growth purchased the site, "we looked at it as a really viable way to reactivate that space, as part of a re-merchandising plan," Bisenius said.

The mall owner also plans to renovate its food court, install new entrances and bring in two new restaurants, she said.

Since it gained control of the department store site, "we have had a lot of interest… from big box (retailers), theaters, restaurants," and combination formats, Bisenius said. "Within that short period of time, it was a revolving door of retailers interested. White Marsh is an active retail area and a lot of retailers want to be in this area."

She said the department store, which sells everything from appliances to apparel, would add breadth in merchandise mix to the mall's offerings. Other anchors include Macy's, Sports Authority, JC Penney and Sears.

Besides the new store in White Marsh, Boscov's also announced Thursday that it would open a new store next year in Woodbridge, N.J.

In the announcement, Boscov called the two store sites "excellent locations in great markets."

Boscov's has 40 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, where it has locations in Westminster, Salisbury and Frederick.

Boscov's has begun demolition inside the White Marsh store, where it plans an open layout and other renovations.

The company has begun hiring through its website for the 300 store workers it needs and plans to bring in a hiring trailer and to hold job fairs this summer, Bisenius said.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lmirabella

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