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Mondawmin may get $70 million makeover

Plans for a $70 million makeover of Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore were presented yesterday to the city's design panel by owner General Growth Properties Inc., which said it hopes for approval to begin the renovation in June.

The plans presented to the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel call for a 127,000-square-foot big-box retailer, a 67,200-square-foot grocery store and a 28,000-square-foot "junior" anchor. General Growth also plans to add two 6,000-square-foot locations with sit-down family restaurants.

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Target Corp. wouldn't confirm if it is the big-box retailer that General Growth is talking to, although a spokesman for the retailer said it is interested in the area.

"Target is a wonderful retailer and we would love to have them at the site," said H. Granvel Tate III, director of urban land development for General Growth. He wouldn't confirm discussions with Target, but the retailer's name came up several times as he and others, including members of the architectural firm for the project, discussed the plans before yesterday's meeting.

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The plans also call for extensive upgrades to the exterior and interior of the mall, including creating two landscaped main entrances, better lighting inside and graphic design on the exterior.

"When you look at the building itself, the best way to describe it is bland," said David W. Benn, principal at Cho Benn Holback + Associates, the architectural firm for the project. "They're not exactly enticing you to come in. One of our goals is to make the whole place inviting and more friendly."

Past efforts to renovate the enclosed mall, the city's oldest, didn't pan out. The planning commission and City Council as well as the design panel must approve the latest plans.

"In terms of what's there now, it's old, it's out-of-date and it's not welcoming," said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's development agency, who was at the meeting. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity - public and private - to give Northwest Baltimore what it deserves."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com


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