Hotel, apartments proposed for former Sears site in Bowie

rpacella@capgaznews.com

It will be years before the now-closed Sears store in Bowie is redeveloped and finding another tenant didn’t work, the property’s owners told residents at a stakeholders meeting at Bowie City Hall Jan. 23.

Robert Ursini of Seritage Growth Properties explained his company purchased 240 Sears and K-Mart buildings across the United States since 2015. The easiest way for them to make money from those properties to benefit their stockholders is to reuse the existing building, he said.

In Bowie’s case, he said they have marketed the 130,000 square-foot space without success. The Sears store closed at the end of 2018.

Now they are proposing a redevelopment of the 10.8-acre site that could include structured parking, up to 800 apartments, 75,000 feet of retail space, 80,000 feet of office space and a 155-key hotel.

Attorney Robert Antonetti emphasized at the meeting Jan. 23 that they have not submitted an application and are exploring their options for redevelopment; nothing is final.

The area they own includes BJ’s Restaurant, which would remain after the redevelopment, Antonetti said.

Creating a place to work, eat, be entertained and live will create more of a draw and strengthen the center as the heart of the community, architect John Ward, managing partner at 505 Design, said.

“Today, people want to be around other people,” he said.

The hotel would be situated at the northern end of the site, near BJ’s restaurant. The proposed apartments would likely be in more than two buildings at the south end of the site, adjacent to City Hall. The developers discussed parking options at the stakeholders meeting and said wrapping the apartments around parking garages was a possibility.

Sketches include a green “City Hall Promenade” connecting the redevelopment with the police station and hall across the road.

A green, lush public space will be an important part of the redevelopment, Ward said.

A management company has been hired to take care of the Sears building while it is unoccupied, Ursini said. According to a city page with documents and information on the proposed redevelopment, the owners need to amend the approved basic plan, comprehensive design plan, preliminary plan of subdivision and the specific design plan. Ursini said he expects the approvals to take two years, and then construction of the project would take between 18 and 24 months.

He said they will not tear down the Sears building until they sure about the redevelopment.

That restaurant is indicative of the kind of economic opportunity Ursini, Antonetti and others see in the redevelopment, calling the Sears closure an outlier in a strong market. At Bowie Town Center there is a Macy’s and a Safeway, and around the complex is a gym, a senior center, the fire department and other amenities.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Capital. »

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
39°