Although Smalls questioned GGC officials about the leasing issue, he said he is not concerned that more retail tenants have not been named.

"I think they have commitments but they are not ready to release who they are. We're (council members) not privy any more than the general public, but I'm not worried that we won't get what the community deserves, and that is high-quality stores and restaurants."

By high-quality, Smalls said he means fine-dining restaurants and high-end clothing stores.

"I want to see a high-quality men's store and restaurants with white tablecloths. There's nothing wrong with family restaurants, but I'd like to see more fine-dining in my neighborhood," Smalls said. "I have no doubt they'll deliver."

Neither does Matthew Coates, chairman of the Laurel Board of Trade.

"I'm not worried at all about them getting tenants," Coates said. "They probably have retailers in line that they just can't announce until they have everything in place."

GGC officials are confident the town center will be a success and point to their track record with rehabilitating deteriorating or closed mall sites as evidence of their ability to do just that. The company redeveloped the Hunt Valley Towne Centre and the Annapolis Towne Centre, and turned them into thriving open-air shopping centers — similar to what they plan to build at the Laurel site.

Last year, they opened the Waugh Chapel Centre in Crofton, which Laurel city officials visited to get a better idea of the type of shopping center they have in store for the Route 1 mall site.

"Our town center will look just like that, with the same types of stores, but just on a smaller scale," Smalls said.

One thing Smalls did reiterate with the developers is the city's commitment to have minority, women and local subcontractors used whenever appropriate as work on the project progresses. Last year, he introduced legislation to that effect that the council passed.

"I want to make sure they use minority- and women-owned businesses in terms of subcontractors to do some of the finishing work like dry walling, flooring and things like that," Smalls said. "That's been on the table before, so I think when it's all said and done, everything will work out and we will have a good mall."

In an effort to make Town Centre Laurel pedestrian-friendly, plans call for bicycle racks and Zipcars to encourage people to use fewer cars and other vehicles to get to the town center, which developers said will have a walkable Main Street design.

GGC officials said they continue to be enthusiastic about the progression of the project.

"It's a perfect project in a city that needed something there, and we're glad to provide it," Fitzpatrick said.