Neither the recession nor the sight of half-empty retail centers throughout the county has derailed a French retailer's plans to open a $10 million cross between a department store and a mall in Glen Burnie.

Construction of the first LEEDMARK in the United States has progressed on schedule, with most of the building's exterior completed.

"Construction is right on track," spokesman Edward Segal said. "This is going to represent a totally new retailing concept for consumers in the Baltimore area. There is no other store like this in existence."

The store, at the intersection of Route 10 and Ordnance Road, will open this spring, Segal said.

The company has begun hiring managers and other workers. The store will open with 350 full- and part-time employees.

Company officials describe the retail center as a "one-stop shopping hybrid-market" where consumers can shop in oneplace for food, non-food items and clothing.

The new chain of LEEDMARK stores will be built and managed in the U.S. by independent American business executives who have agreed to follow the E. Leclerc Group's philosophy of working together for common goals and business expansion.

Leclerc originated the LEEDMARK name and manages a chain of about 500 stores in France. The New Eldis Corp., a U.S. company affiliated with Leclerc, will run the new chain, customizing it for theAmerican marketplace.

Each store will sell merchandise that meetsthe needs of consumers in that particular area, Segal said.

Officials chose Glen Burnie as the site for the first store because "it isan established, growing and prosperous retail area that is easily accessible from major roads and highways," Segal said.

The Glen Burnie store, which Glen Burnie-based Glenmark will manage, is the firstof several stores New Eldis expects to open in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area. As future stores open, New Eldis will create operating companies to run them.

The stand-alone Glen Burnie store,being built on a 25-acre site, will include 130,000 square feet of selling space, several warehouses to store merchandise, a play room for customers' children and several merchant tenants.

Glenmark has not signed any leases but expects merchants such as banks, fast food restaurants and video rental stores, Segal said.

The new retailer is expected to generate more than $3 million in state and county tax income annually.

CKL Architects of Newport News, VA. designed the center and High Construction of Lancaster, Pa. is building it.

The temporary office, where workers can apply for jobs, is located at 6740 Baymeadow Drive in Glen Burnie.

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