Developer Greenberg Gibbons announced last month the addition of five new restaurants, two retailers and a post office to the new Towne Centre at Laurel.
Along with new tenants there is also the addition of a new street light and entrance that allows drivers to enter from Cherry Lane, said Jack Brock, assistant director of Laurel's Department of Community Planning.
“It was the plan from the very beginning, especially with the additional traffic that is going to be generated by the Towne Centre,” Brock said.
The development of the new Towne Centre began when the owners of the Laurel Mall approached Greenberg Gibbons after learning about their award-winning redevelopments of other Maryland town centers, said Tom Fitzpatrick, president and chief operating officer of Greenberg Gibbons.
“They had known of our recent experience with the opening of the Annapolis Towne Centre,” Fitzpatrick said, “so we were approached by them and were asked to help them look at redeveloping the former Laurel Mall.”
After the evaluation, Greenberg Gibbons created the $130 million, 400,000-square-foot mixed-use project Towne Centre at Laurel. Three stores are now open in the new development: Burlington Coat Factory, a long-time Laurel business, opened in April, followed by Party City and Massage Envy.
“Burlington's store manager is very excited with the customer base that was already there,” Fitzpatrick said. “They've been doing business for a long time in Laurel, so this is a brand new prototype store for them and the reviews, both in the performance of the store and the comments of the customers, are both very positive.”
Fitzpatrick said that Greenberg Gibbons will continue to open new tenants throughout the summer and early fall.
In addition to the post office, five new restaurants now under construction are Buffalo Wild Wings, Nando's Peri Peri, Sarku Japan, Moe's Southwest Grill and Extreme Pita. Also under construction are Modo Nail Bar and Hair Cuttery. These new tenants will open during Phase 2 of the project, which is scheduled to be “on or around Oct. 1,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I think that these types of restaurants ... have unique menu offerings that differentiate them from each other, so therefore creates a better offering for the public,” Fitzpatrick said.
Phase 2 of the project also includes the addition of Regal Cinemas; Sports Authority; Old Navy; Harris Teeter; B.J.'s Restaurant and Brewhouse; Kay Jewelers; and Outback Steakhouse, which is relocating from Sweitzer Lane in Laurel, Brock said.
“Good grief, we've got a lot of good foods coming in,” Brock said. “We're not quite sure what stores are coming where men's and women's clothing is concerned. We'll know by August or September.”
ExpressCare, an urgent care center that Brock said is similar to Patient First in Maryland City, is also opening later this year.
With these additional tenants, Brock said he knows traffic is likely to increase, leading city officials to make some street improvements, adding lanes and a new street light on Cherry Lane.
“To prevent traffic from queuing up on Route 1, we made some improvements to the main entrance, including an additional right lane that will turn to Cherry Lane,” Brock said.
On Cherry Lane, a new four-way intersection is being constructed, along with three additional lanes that will be coming out of the Towne Centre, allowing drivers to turn on Cherry Lane or continue across Cherry Lane to Laurel Place, which runs behind the Olive Garden and other restaurants and businesses. The traffic signals will first be activated in flash mode, and should be in full operation in mid-July, according to Laurel Public Works Director Paul McCullagh. The Cherry Lane entrance into the Towne Centre will open later this summer, McCullagh said.
The improvements are also pedestrian-friendly.
“If you're going to be a pedestrian, individuals wanting to cross can just push the button and the countdown will come on for them,” Brock said. “That light will also be attached to the light on Fourth Street and the light on Route 1 and Cherry Lane in order to be synchronized, instead of having traffic backed up with signals that don't work together.”