A sign outside the now vacant Santoni's Super Market in Highlandtown says Gmart International Foods, a six-store chain with two Maryland locations, is coming soon.
But the shopping center's landlord said late Monday that no lease has yet been signed, and the company is negotiating with four or five grocers that are interested in moving in.
"We've had a lot of interest and narrowed the list to four or five," including national and regional chains and smaller operators, said Michael Jacoby, CEO of Bethesda-based Broad Street Realty, which is leasing the space. The shopping center is owned by a group controlled by principals of Broad Street.
Santoni's had 12 years left on its lease on the 26,000-square-foot space when it closed in October, Jacoby said.
"It's a mess, but the real estate is an excellent location, and we're optimistic because there is such good interest," he said.
When asked about the Gmart sign, Jacoby said perhaps the chain hoped to discourage competition.
"We haven't signed a lease with anyone," but hope to by the end of the month, he said.
The center also has a Rite Aid and Dollar Tree and a Subway will open soon.
Santoni's owner Rob N. Santoni Jr. had said the bottle tax passed last year by Baltimore City had hurt his longtime business.
A manager for the Gmart chain could not be immediately reached.
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