Severna Park Mall's metamorphosis begins


Severna Park Mall's transformation from mall to strip shopping center has begun, after months of delays.

Workers are landscaping, expanding the parking lot and improving access into the center, said Kevin McCarthy, president of Capitol Management and Consultants, property managers.

If the owner, Severna Park Mall Associates, obtains financing, workers will break ground by fall on a $4 million reconstruction, McCarthy said.

"We're trying to meet the needs of the tenants and the community," he said. "There have been a lot of requests to do something about the parking near Giant."

Management plans to raze most of the mall between Giant Food and Caldor. The new Severna Park Centre will be rebuilt in a U-shape farther back from Ritchie Highway, making room for about 100 more parking spaces.

About 12 stores, ranging in size from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet, will front on the lot.

McCarthy said his company has signed leases with several new tenants and is negotiating with others.

Several more tenants had signed leases months ago, but withdrew from the agreements when the mall failed to provide them with space on time, said McCarthy. He said getting the required county permits took longer than expected.

The current owner took over the once-thriving, enclosed 35-store mall in 1986. About a year later, stores began to close and new shops never replaced them.

In 1989, Caldor left after a lease dispute with management. Within a year, most of the retailers had moved.

Thomas P. Turchan Jr., a managing partner, said he tried unsuccessfully for three years to pull in new tenants. He attributed the mall's failure to the waning popularity of small malls in an increasingly competitive area.

A snazzier-looking Caldor returned to its old spot in the mall last November, after former owner May Department Stores Inc. sold the chain to Caldor Inc.

McCarthy said the preliminary site work under way includes creating a new exit onto Ritchie Highway and realigning a road that leads into the mall from a neighborhood behind the center.

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