Big plans for a small shopping center

Mark Manzo stands inside the Giant supermarket at Green Spring Tower Square shopping center on May 1. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda / April 30, 2012)

The relocation of the Rotunda Mall Giant gives a big boost to Green Spring Tower Square, a small, family-owned shopping center in the Hampden area.

Mark Manzo isn't stopping there. In email interviews conducted in the past two weeks, Manzo, a partner in LVM, a limited partnership that owns the center, said he hopes to bring "national tenants" and a wine store into the center.

He said he also wants to revive the Skyview project, a long-stalled town house development on a three-acre hill overlooking the center.

"There is no doubt the new life Giant has breathed into the shopping center will give Skyview a lift as well," Manzo said. "Coupled with the recent uptick in the residential market, we anticipate moving forward with Skyview sooner than later."


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LVM also would like to be involved in the development of the 25th Street Station shopping center in Remington, and in the redevelopment of the Rotunda, he said. In addition, LVM is reaching out to the new owners of the Village of Cross Keys shopping center.

"Should any of those developers be looking for a strategic partner or an exit opportunity, we hope they would reach out to us first …" Manzo said. "We were very interested in acquiring (the Rotunda and Cross Keys) when they were for sale."

LVM is named for Manzo's father, Louis V. Manzo, who opened the 70,000-square-foot shopping center in 1991 at 1040 West 41st St., on the site of the former Green Spring Dairy plant.

Mark Manzo, 38, of Highlandtown, said he serves as the company's financial analyst, leasing consultant, property manager and construction manager.

Longtime anchor SuperFresh left the Hampden shopping center last year, one of 22 Maryland stores closed by its parent company.

Canadian-based Fresh and Green's followed, but was one of two Fresh and Green's stores in the Baltimore area that were sold to Landover-based Giant Food.

Sturdier anchor

Now, with the Rotunda Giant closing after 41 years, and a new Giant opening a quarter mile away, LVM has landed a much sturdier anchor. The Giant store opened to great fanfare in March, drawing thousands of customers with special deals.

Other tenants are much smaller, including T-Mobile, a cleaners, Dunkin Donuts, a salon and an Italian eatery, Mamma's Cucina.

Manzo calls it a "diverse tenant mix," and said LVM is reaching a market that includes Loyola and Johns Hopkins universities, and communities ranging from Roland Park to Mount Washington.

Manzo also said the company is in talks with several possible national tenants "to deliver a complimentary set of retail services without significantly altering the current storefronts."

Also high on his priority list is getting a wine store, which he could not do in 2010, when the Medfield Community Association opposed a proposal by the nearby Wine Underground to move to the center.

"One request we have heard over and over again is the demand for a high-end wine shop," either next door to the Giant or on the premises, he said.

Medfield and Hampden community leaders said last year they didn't want more wine or liquor stores in the area — even one as upscale as Wine Underground. But Manzo said he thinks all residents' opinions weren't heard, only their leaders' opinions.

But he hasn't given up, and said, "We are working on ways to introduce a high-end wine shop."

Trying for partnerships

As for LVM's interest in joint ventures or other strategic partnerships, Rotunda owner Hekemian & Co. likely isn't interested, said Chris Bell, senior vice president for development and acquisitions.

Bell said he doesn't remember the New Jersey-based company ever doing one.

"We typically don't do joint ventures," he said. "I'm not sure we've ever done a joint venture. Not to say we wouldn't. But the Rotunda is right up our alley," as a real estate and development company.

"I get calls all the time," Bell said. "People want to know if the Rotunda is for sale. The simple answer is, we are not looking for, nor are we interested in, a joint venture at this time."

Baltimore attorney Jon Laria, representing 25th Street Station developer Rick Walker, declined to comment, pending resolution of several lawsuits challenging that project.

A spokesman for Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp., which bought the Village of Cross Keys shopping center in March, could not be reached for comment.

For now, Manzo is focused on his family's shopping center and on getting Skyview off the ground — two key projects that he said are closely related.

"The market turnaround expected at the end of 2010 and early 2011 ended up taking longer than expected," he said. "Consequently, we decided to shelve our plans to break ground and focus on repositioning Green Spring Tower Square."