Expanding its presence in the Baltimore region, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has bought a vacant Montgomery Ward store in Catonsville and plans to build a 127,000-square-foot store, according to a Baltimore County official.
"The county is very excited about the project," said J. Thomas Sadowski, the business development representative in the Office of Economic Development for Baltimore County. "They have been very responsible in their effort to get the project moving."
Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., has 1,994 Wal-Mart stores and 331 Sam's Clubs, a membership warehouse operation. The company has 13 Wal-Marts and three Sam's Clubs in Maryland, with plans to add four Wal-Marts and seven Sam's Clubs.
In Baltimore County, Wal-Mart purchased the former Montgomery Ward store at Rolling Road and U.S. 40 last week, Mr. Sadowski said. Plans for the store, which were submitted to county officials in the spring, call for razing the Montgomery Ward building in the shopping center and building a new store.
After meeting with community leaders and getting necessary approvals from the county government, Wal-Mart is seeking permits to startconstruction, Mr. Sadowski said. He said he did not know of any outstanding zoning issue, since the Montgomery Ward building was bigger than the proposed Wal-Mart.
The Wal-Mart store will have about 300 employees, 75 percent of whom will be full time, Mr. Sadowski said. He said he did not know the proposed store's opening date or the purchase price of the former Montgomery Ward building.
Wal-Mart spokesman Trey V.Baker III said he could neither confirm nor deny that Wal-Mart had bought the Montgomery Ward building.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is continuing its case in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to try to overturn a zoning decision that blocked the company from building a store at U.S. 40 and U.S. 29 in Ellicott City -- only six miles from the proposed Catonsville store.
Wal-Mart has a Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club under construction in Laurel near Route 197 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. That store is scheduled to open next summer, Mr. Baker said.
The company also has plans to build a 116,000-square-foot store at Belair Road and White Marsh Boulevard in Baltimore County.
Further, Wal-Mart plans to convert six former Pace Membership Warehouses in Maryland into Sam's Clubs early next year. Those operations were included in the purchase of 91 Pace stores by Wal-Mart from Kmart Corp.