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At shopping center, a modest opening

The Baltimore Sun

Though sections of the new Gateway Overlook shopping center still are dusty construction zones, several stores, including a Best Buy, Office Depot and Five Below, are scheduled to open today. An ULTA store is to open in mid-June.

By the end of the year, the sprawling commercial development, on 123 acres at Routes 175 and 108, is expected to have a Trader Joe's, a Loehman's, a Lowe's, a Costco, two banks and several free-standing national chain restaurants, including Houlihan's, Mimi's Cafe and On the Border Mexican Grill.

Robert Byrne, vice president of General Growth Properties, which is developing the site, said the finished shopping center will also have a 57,000- square-foot building with smaller tenants, including restaurants and a retail store called Golf Galaxy.

The site also received Planning Board approval in May for 66 attached condominiums, to be built by the Ryland Group.

Alison Mochizuki, Trader Joe's spokesman, said the discount and gourmet food store is expected to open "this year" at 6610 Marie Curie Drive, one of the new streets in the shopping center. The outlet is to be 11,100 square feet, she said, which is similar in size to other Trader Joe's stores. The chain, based in California, is known for its fresh produce and inexpensive, high-quality packaged foods.

Best Buy, the electronics retail giant, closed its store Monday off Snowden River Parkway in Columbia. A company spokesman said the new store, less than two miles from the old location, has 45,000 square feet.

Gateway Overlook is being built on one of the last parcels of land with New Town zoning, a designation created specifically for the development of Columbia.

On Tuesday, many of the buildings were still little more than windowless shells. Backhoes and other construction equipment roamed the property, winding between piles of bricks and boards.

The row of stores scheduled to open today, though, looked almost ready to welcome customers. The shelves were in, and merchandise was arriving. Five Below, a store selling items that cost $5 or less, looked fully stocked. The company, which sells items ranging from jump ropes to straw mats to kites, has 53 locations, all in Mid-Atlantic states.

ULTA, expected to open this month, is a beauty-supply store with about 200 locations nationwide. The store sells its own brand of makeup and skin-care products, as well as national brands, including high-end names such as Smashbox and drug-store favorites such as Maybelline.

Loehmann's, Costco and Lowe's are expected to open in August, Byrne said. Loehmann's, which sells designer clothes at discount prices, started in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1921 and has stores nationwide. The Gateway store will be the third in Maryland, along with locations in Rockville and Timonium.

Costco, a club-style discount store, sells everything from hot tubs to hamburgers, offering a constantly changing stock of discounted items to customers who pay a membership fee. The 142,000-square-foot Columbia store will be the sixth Costco in the state. Lowe's, the 60-year-old home improvement store, will open a 138,000-square-foot store.

The three restaurants, all between 6,000 and 7,000 square feet, are expected to open in August or September, Byrne said. Houlihan's, a casual-dining chain that started in 1972, serves burgers, chicken, pot roast and other comfort food. Mimi's Cafe, a subsidiary of Bob Evans, serves Southern country food such as buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken and chicken pot pie. On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina will offer fajitas, tacos and other Mexican dishes.

In November, a 57,000-square-foot building will open, housing some smaller restaurants and Golf Galaxy, a golf-related retail store with 75 locations nationwide. Two bank branches, a Wachovia and a Chevy Chase, also are expected to open by the end of the year.

Planning for the development began in 2000, when the property was owned by the Rouse Co., which was purchased by General Growth Properties in 2004. Retail construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year, Byrne said.

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