The acclaimed 19th century American poet Henry W. Longfellow said, “The present is the blocks with which we build.” Forthwith, at Harford Mall, building blocks are being stacked, cemented, and put in place for a new shopping space called The Shops at Harford Mall.
Folks in Bel Air gazed at this location with interest in February and March when the Sears building was demolished, and tons of debris hauled away to clear the land for this new project.
The shops are slated to open the first or second quarter of 2024. Jeff Garrison, principal developer for SJC Ventures, LLC, said, “We are excited to work on The Shops at Harford Mall and have had very strong interest from the marketplace. We look forward to bringing top retailers and dining to the center and offering residents and visitors a best-in-class grocery anchored plaza that is a highly energized space in this location.”
Plans show The Shops will consist of three major buildings: one with a grocery store and two others for retail. According to the Bel Air Planning Commission, Amazon Fresh grocery has signed a lease for the largest building, spanning more than 43,000 square feet. Shoppers will have the option to use Dash Cart, which operates sensor fusion in the shopping cart to scan products, exit through the Dash Cart lanes and be billed by email to credit card on file with Amazon. The other option will be through traditional checkout.
CEO Candice McElyea, of One Eight Oh public relations, said several retailers have signed on for space, yet are not ready to announce. They will include specialty boutiques and health and wellness companies. A Mediterranean grill proposal has been submitted, said Rowan Glidden, Bel Air planning commissioner. “They’re proposing a drive-thru for pickup only of online orders,” he said in May.
Because the project on the 4.4-acre lot is larger than 10,000 square feet, the Bel Air Planning Commission required the developer to provide a public art amenity or a $10,000 donation to the arts.
The developers shared a vision for a sculpture of horses in a nod to the history of the site where the mall sits. From 1878 to 1965, the land off Tollgate Road operated as the Bel Air Racetrack. The racetrack was one of the first formal racecourses in Maryland, surpassed only by Pimlico Racetrack which opened in 1870. The proposed sculpture consists of five attached horses made from steel and finished in a bronze color.
The Bel Air Cultural Arts Commission has unanimously approved the proposed art amenity submitted by SJC Ventures.
Joseph R. Hughes Sr.