Rotunda redeveloper close to announcing new supermarket

Rotunda mall redeveloper Hekemian & Co. is expected to announce a successor to the former Giant supermarket in the next few weeks, possibly by the end of the year, said Al Barry, a local land-use consultant to Hekemian.

Other tenants, including several restaurants, could be announced as well, Barry said. He said at least one "major tenant" is expected to be revealed.

Overall redevelopment plans are still on track for the Rotunda, 711 W. 40th St., in Roland Park, and groundbreaking is planned in May 2013, Barry said, adding that Hekemian representatives met with architects on the project Dec.17.

Final negotiations, including letters of intent for a number of tenants, are under way, Barry said. How many new tenants there would be depends on how space in the shopping center is reconfigured, he said.

There is no lack of interest in the Rotunda by grocers, restaurateurs and other retailers, Barry said.

"There is a tremendous amount of interest in the retail space," he said. "There is more interest than there is space."

Barry also said Hekemian envisions several restaurants ranging from fast-casual to sitdown with wait staffs.

"There will be a variety of food options," he said.

The Rotunda, a small, struggling mall that has been treading water in recent years, dominated north Baltimore news in 2012. Landover-based Giant Foods closed its Rotunda store after 41 years and opened a new, larger store in the former Fresh & Green's and SuperFresh space in the nearby Green Spring Tower Square shopping center in the 1000 block of West 41st Street in Hampden.

In August, Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and two other sources said three grocers were in the running to replace Giant — Baltimore-based Graul's Markets, Inc., Washington-based MOMS Organic Market, and The Fresh Market, based in Greensboro, N.C.

Also this year, Hekemian reconvened its long-dormant citizens task force of residents in communities surrounding the Rotunda, and unveiled plans for a roughly $100 million redevelopment project — scaled back from original plans in the mid-2000s. Current plan call for about 375 apartments, aimed at empty nesters and young professionals. The project also includes a five-story building with four stories of apartments and a lower level of additional retail. A parking garage with 1,100 spaces is also planned.

Hekemian no longer proposes a hotel, a 22-story apartment building or underground parking, all of which were part of earlier plans.

There are also no plans to use the interior part of the mall for retail. Stores would be turned outward to face a plaza that would include programmable space for outdoor events, as recommended by the city's Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel.

Clarke and some UDARP members balked at the absence of an interior mall, but Hekemian senior vice president Chris Bell said that was always the plan.

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