An At Home store is slated to open in late July in an 86,000 square-foot building in the Boulevard at Box Hill shopping center in Abingdon. The building was previously leased by J.C. Penney before that store closed last year.
Jim Martin, president of Ward Properties — the company that owns the shopping center off of Route 924 near the Route 24/I-95 interchange — said “we’re just thrilled to have” At Home coming to the center.
“We feel like this will be an asset to the community, and we’re excited for them to open,” Martin continued.
The Plano, Texas-based At Home, whose website bears the slogan “the home décor superstore,” signed a lease for the former J.C. Penney space earlier this year. Workers have been at the building in recent days, making exterior and interior improvements to the structure, including constructing a new façade around the main entrance. The façade resembles the gable end of a roof, and Martin said it has been designed in the form of a house’s roof line.
The Abingdon store will be At Home’s fifth in Maryland. Its other locations are in Crofton, Gaithersburg, Glen Burnie and Frederick.
J.C. Penney, a Texas-based national retailer, announced last June that 154 of its stores would close — including the one at the Boulevard at Box Hill — as the company filed for bankruptcy protection. The Abingdon store, which had opened in 2012, closed in October, according to Martin.
At Home is slated to open as Harford County and Maryland make their way out of the year-long COVID-19 pandemic, and people begin to resume pre-pandemic activities, including shopping and dining. Gov. Larry Hogan has announced that Maryland’s state of emergency will be lifted July 1.
Online shopping had been accelerating before the pandemic, creating challenges for brick-and-mortar retailers, and even more people turned to online retailers when stay-at-home orders were put in place early in the pandemic.
Martin, however, noted that brick-and-mortar stores still appeal to shoppers who want to try on clothes or evaluate home décor items in person.
“I think that those type of stores will continue to encourage people to come out in person,” he said. “We’re anticipating continued success, and hopefully increased traffic with At Home in place.”
Another effort to draw people there is the return of the shopping center’s summer concert series, Sunsets on the Boulevard. Concerts are scheduled to begin July 16 with a performance by The Magical Mystery Girls, a female Beatles tribute band. A full list of performers and a concert schedule are available on the Boulevard at Box Hill’s Facebook page.
Boulevard at Box Hill, which is anchored by stores such as a Wegmans supermarket that opened in 2011, Old Navy and now At Home, is occupied by a number of shops, service-oriented businesses and restaurants.
Most of the spaces are leased except for “two small vacancies,” according to Martin, who noted that the shopping center owner has the ability to build about 45,000 more square feet if needed.
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“If things continue to pick up, and there is a necessity, we’ll certainly jump on it and build the additional space,” he said.