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Plaza being constructed next to Columbia Palace cinemas


A Columbia developer has started construction on a plaza that will feature restaurants and service-oriented businesses to complement the adjacent Columbia Palace 9 cinema complex.

Corridor Brokerage Services of Columbia has signed two tenants to leases and has several other leases "out for signature," said Mickey Abrams, developer of Columbia Palace Plaza and a partner with Corridor Brokerage.

The planned three-building commercial development on 4.3 acres at Route 108 and Centre Park Drive is part of an 11-acre development that includes the movie theaters, owned by the Loews chain. Towson-based Continental Realty Corp., which built and operated Columbia Palace 9 in the mid-1980s before selling it to Loews, will own the plaza.

Under county zoning, only 10 percent of the plaza's space can be devoted to retail businesses. The rest must be service-oriented businesses, such as restaurants, banks, cleaners, printers and service agencies.

The committed tenants for the planned 14,950-square-foot building are the China Moon restaurant, which has a location in Baltimore County, and Columbia Plaza Cleaners, said Mary Pat Baxter, Continental Realty's general counsel.

Leases under negotiation include ones for an Italian restaurant, a doughnut shop, a roast beef and roasted chicken carryout, a hair salon and a bedding retailer, said Ms. Baxter.

Continental Realty plans to seek one user as a tenant for the second building, which will have 6,500 square feet, said Ms. Baxter. Construction could be completed by the end of August, with a grand opening probable in October, she said.

The third building will be a bank on a free-standing "pad site," but will not be constructed until a bank commits to the site, she said.

The plaza will serve workers in the sprawling Oakland Ridge Industrial Center and other nearby offices and the Long Reach village community, said Mr. Abrams.

The project originally was proposed in 1991 as the Columbia Palace Office Center, but Continental Realty changed its plans.

"We could have done offices right away and had more square footage, but we didn't want to add to the vacancy rate," said Ms. Baxter. "We thought this would be more serviceable."

Demand exists for service-oriented businesses in Columbia, said Ms. Baxter.

"We own a lot of other centers in other areas, and we were surprised at how few of this sort of thing there is in Columbia," she said. "Evidently retailers agree. They're telling us they couldn't find anywhere to go for another location or a first location in Columbia."

Residents of nearby neighborhoods voiced concerns about noise, traffic and other disturbances when the Columbia Palace 9 project went through the planning process. But Ms. Baxter said the theaters have been "successful," helping to pave a smoother ride through the review process for the plaza project.

"None of the terrible things happened that people said would happen," she said.

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