Kmart Corp. will convert a former Caldor in Catonsville into a Big Kmart store by November, filling one of five remaining vacant Caldors in the Baltimore area.
Caldor in Catonsville Plaza has stood empty since May 1999, four months after Caldor Corp. announced plans to close its 145 discount stores throughout the Northeast - including eight in the Baltimore area. The 30-year-old shopping center on U.S. 40 also is anchored by a Metro Food Market.
Construction should start next week, with the store scheduled to open Nov. 19, Susan Dennis, a Kmart spokeswoman, said yesterday.
The Troy, Mich.,-based retailer started converting its older, outdated stores to the Big Kmart format in 1997 and had completed 90 percent of them by January, Dennis said. New stores also follow the Big Kmart format, typically larger and brighter, with wider aisles and a focus on home fashions, children's apparel and consumable goods, such as paper towels and laundry detergent. The Catonsville store will also include a pharmacy, a cafe and a "pantry" for items such as milk and juice.
Kmart Corp., which signed a long-term lease on the 114,000-square-foot store, will alter the building's facade and remodel the interior, said Terry Alexa, vice president of leasing for Tri-Land Properties, the center's owner.
"We had several other people interested in the building but wanted to make sure it was the right user," Alexa said. "We believe a discount department store should do a considerable high volume with the demographics and population that surrounds the site. It's a good traffic generator."
Since Caldor shut its doors, Kmart has taken over 16 of the vacant stores - none in the Baltimore area. Dennis said she did not know whether Kmart is considering other empty Caldors in the Baltimore area. That includes older space that once housed retailers such as Stewart & Co. or E. J. Korvettes and newer buildings put up or renovated as part of Caldor's entrance into the Baltimore market in the 1980s.
"It might be an option for us," she said. Developers of Anneslie Shopping Center south of Towson, Lutherville Station in Timonium and Cromwell Fields Shopping Center in Glen Burnie said yesterday that they are negotiating with potential tenants for former Caldor sites. The developer of Parkway Crossing on Perring Parkway could not be reached.
National Wholesale Liquidators took over the Caldor at Reisterstown Road Plaza in Baltimore County. Kohl's moved into the former Caldor at Severna Park Mall in Severna Park, and Home Depot replaced a Caldor at Chatham Mall in Ellicott City as part of a center redevelopment.
Signing Kmart to Catonsville Plaza should help attract apparel retailers to fill remaining vacancies in the 280,000-square-foot center, including space once occupied by a McCrory and a health club, Alexa said.