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Kmart in Eldersburg among stores slated for closure

Sears Holdings Corp. has announced that the Kmart store at the Carrolltown Center in Eldersburg will close in 2012.

The company, which had announced late in 2011 that as many as 120 stores would be shuttered this year nationwide, added 15 stores on Thursday to an earlier list of 79 that have been targeted for closure.

The store, located on Liberty Road at Ridge Road, is among them.

Sears Holdings did not announce a date when the store would close, and the company's media relations office responded via email to an inquiry from The Carroll Eagle, saying simply that the general closure announcement is "the only information we have."

Some residents in Eldersburg — and even some county officials — had been rooting for the store to be chosen for closure.

That's because Sears Holding, which has a long-term lease at Carrolltown Center, has been seen as a stumbling block to the redevelopment of the center by owner Black Oak Associates, of Owings Mills.

"I'm almost speechless. (Sears officials) have finally come to their sense," said Ellen Dix, president of the Freedom Area Citizens Council. Dix said she was "excited" to hear the news that the store would close, and was busy Friday sending out "celebratory emails."

Black Oak purchased Carrolltown late in 2004, and in 2005 closed the interior of the mall and announced plans to turn it into an open-air plaza similar to The Avenue in White Marsh, with a mix of stores, a new movie theater and a new outlook.

But negotiations between Sears Holding and Black Oak for different space at the plaza were unsuccessful. And terms of the retailer's lease — which Black Oak said lasted into 2013 — reportedly gave Sears Holdings approval rights over Black Oak's plan.

Dixon Harvey, president of Black Oak, was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment regarding Sears Holdings' announcement, but earlier had declined to say earlier whether a closure of Kmart would indeed immediately trigger Carrolltown's redevelopment.

In recent months, Carrolltown has seen other tenants leave the center — the most recent being Peebles department store, in January. Flagship theaters at the center closed in 2009.

In December, Commissioner Doug Howard, who represents Eldersburg and Sykesville as the 5th District member of the Board of County Commissioners, told The Eagle, "You hate to see anybody go out, but I think we would see (Kmart's closure) as the next step for redevelopment of the center."

Dix said she understands that no matter when Kmart does close, it will not be an immediate process to get Carrolltown's redevelopment under way.

"This is not going to be a quick turnaround," she said. ""There are tenants there that have their leases and rights, then there needs to be drawing up of the plans, and have them go though Center Street (the Carroll County Government offices).

"I don't look for anything to happen in 2012," she said, "but (Harvey) is a good man. I hope what he does will reflect the standard of Eldersburg.

"I believe it'll once again make Carrolltown mall the center of Eldersburg," Dix said.

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