A nearly 9,500-square foot liquor store is among the several new businesses planning to open in the Tollgate Marketplace shopping center in Bel Air.
In addition to Cork Wine and Spirits, also coming are HomeSense, which has been under construction for the last several months; Gong Cha Tea & Coffee and Saladworks.
Once those spaces are filled, six of the 35 spaces in the 390,746-square-foot shopping center at the southwest corner of Route 24 and Baltimore Pike will be vacant, according to RPAI Inc., which owns, leases, manages and develops Tollgate Marketplace.
Three of those are under negotiation, according to H&R Retail, the real estate brokerage firm for Tollgate Marketplace.
An application has been submitted to the Harford County Liquor Control Board for Cork Wine & Spirits, a 9,428-square-foot Class A1 liquor store.
The store would be next to Michael’s art and craft store, in the space that was occupied by Party City until it moved into the space where Bassett Furniture was.
“It’s next to two new tenants, one of which is Sprouts,” Joseph Snee, lawyer for Cork Wine & Spirits, said. “It’s not uncommon to have a liquor store next to a grocery store.”
There was a liquor store in the shopping center for many years until Cheers relocated in 2018 to a spot across from Harford Mall.
A hearing on the new license, which will include Jennifer Linthicum of Baltimore, Tessa Hosutt of Bel Air, Joseph Vales of Hampstead and Dorothy Leslie of Marriottsville, was scheduled for Aug. 28 but it has been postponed until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, according to Judi Powell, special projects coordinator with the liquor board.
The board received a letter from lawyer Albert J. Young that he was representing several licensees who are opposed to the new store and he asked that the hearing be postponed so he had more time to prepare, Powell said.
Young could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In the 35 years he’s been before the liquor board seeking a license for a Class A1 license, “everybody protests because they don’t like competition," Snee said.
“I can’t limit the number of lawyers in Harford County. You have to compete, it’s the free market," Snee said.
One Class A, A1 and/or A2 license can be issued for every 3,000 people in the county, according to the Alcoholic Beverage Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
With a population of 254,740, Harford can have 85 such licenses. Fifty-two have been issued as of July 31, leaving 33 available to be issued, Powell said.
Of those issued, 44 are Class A1 liquor licenses that allow, beer, wine and liquor sales seven days a week, Powell said.
A Class A license is for beer and wine sold seven days a week. Eight of those licenses are issued in Harford to convenience stores. An A2 license allows beer, wine and liquor sales six days week — none of those are issued in Harford.
The most recent A1 license was issued in May 2017 to Whiteford Beer, Wine & Spirits. The last one before that was to Discount Liquors in November 2012, which opened in the former Decker’s Liquors on the corner of Baltimore Pike and South Atwood Road in Bel Air.
Other new tenants
HomeSense is under construction in the former Toys R Us space, next to Sprouts, which opened July 10 in the former hhgregg space. On its website, HomeSense is described as “a sensational new home store designed to spark your creativity at every turn."
An opening date is not listed on its website.
HomeSense is owned by TJX Companies, which runs discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.
Gong Cha, opening in the former Starbucks space next to Barnes & Noble, “is one of the most recognized bubble tea brands around the world. Known for quality tea and service, Gong Cha has withheld its reputation against many existing competitors,” according to its website.
The company was founded in 2006 in Taiwan and the first U.S. store opened in 2016 in Queens, N.Y.
The company boasts fresh tea brewed every four hours; pearl (bubbles) cooked to perfection every four hours; tea sourced from the finest Taiwan tea estates; and strict quality control for all ingredients.
Their fresh tea drinks are topped with “milk foam,” a slightly salted cream topping.
Saladworks will be opening in a 2,647-square-foot space on the row of stores facing Route 24. It is next to two adjoining spaces (2,913 and 3,500 square feet) that are under negotiations, according to H&R Retail.
Four other spaces are available — 4,282 square feet next to Ashley Furniture and 2,072, 1,680 and 1,230 square feet in the row facing Route 24 and Marketplace Drive.