Shoppers can expect to see a third anchor store and expanded parking at Marley Station by next summer, several months ahead of the original projection.
Construction is under way at the Glen Burnie complex on a 133,000-square-foot J. C. Penney Co. Inc. store and new parking lot.
Store officials originally had estimated a late 1994 opening, but mall general manager Ed Ladd said yesterday the project is ahead of schedule.
The expansion is the first since the 130-store mall opened in 1987 with anchors Hecht's and Macy's.
The mall's owner, Taubman Co. Inc., began negotiating with J. C. Penney after finding the department store the most requested among Marley Station customers. The closest Penney store is at Annapolis Mall.
"This will round out the mix and fill a gap," Mr. Ladd said. "It's an ideal mix with the existing two department stores."
During the past 10 years, the Dallas-based retailer has phased out its auto shops and sale of merchandise such as appliances and sporting goods to concentrate on men's and women's apparel.
The newer stores, including the one at Marley Station, are designed with separate areas for cosmetics, athletic apparel and men's designer sportswear.
A home department in the new store will have bedroom and bathroom accessories, curtains and draperies, housewares and table linens. The store also will sell luggage, athletic shoes and sports apparel and offer a catalog department.
Penney's construction will wipe out a section of the mall's parking lot. A new lot, on the northeast side of the mall, and a reconfigured access road will be finished by early August. It will replace parking lost to construction, bringing the total number of spaces to 4,736, a 500-space gain, Mr. Ladd said.
Merchants said construction hasn't disrupted business. The Penney store is being built inside a fenced, contained area. Parking lot work has forced the closure of two lanes of a four-lane service road that circles the mall.
"Everyone is very excited about the expansion," said Michelle Hobbs, manager of LensCrafters. "A new anchor store is always a great change, and Penney is a recognized store."
Mr. Ladd said the 900,000-square-foot mall eventually will bring in at least one more department store. He would not elaborate on any possibilities.