Bedding company eyed for strip center to replace recently closed Watson's Garden Center

The leasing agent is promising retail and service-oriented businesses with a neighborhood focus.

Watson's Garden Center in Lutherville, which closed last month after 60 years in business, will be replaced by a 16,000-square-foot strip shopping center featuring "a mix of traditional retail and service-oriented businesses," possibly including a national bedding company, said Mark Mueller, a leasing agent for the property.

Watson's Fireplace and Patio, a separate business next door to the garden center on York Road, remains open.

Mueller, president of Sierra Mid Atlantic, the real estate brokerage firm that is in preliminary negotiations with potential tenants, said he and his partner, Margaret Meginniss, envision six or seven tenants in the center on 1.3 acres at 1620 York Road, which is owned by Watson's owners Henry Marconi and his wife, Teri, operating as Three W Realty.

"It's pretty early, but we are negotiating letters of intent for more than half the center," Mueller said. Among the potential tenants, whom he would not name specifically, are a bedding company, a large beauty services company, and a "quick-serve" chain eatery.

"We've been thrilled," Mueller said. "The intent has far exceeded my expectations."

Mueller said that Henry Marconi does not want to give interviews and that he, Mueller, is speaking on Marconi's behalf as a leasing agent. The Marconis sold Watson's because big-box stores are making the garden center industry "increasingly competitive" and they were thinking about retirement, Mueller said..

From the Marconis' perspective, "It was time to do something different," he added.

Mueller said the building is "attractive," and in a prime location fronting York Road, with good access and ample parking for a neighborhood-oriented strip center.

"It's very much in line with what we think the market will bear," he said. "We think it's consistent with the neighborhood. There are certain uses that are still thriving in shopping centers."

Mueller said groundbreaking is tentatively slated this summer, with completion by spring 2017.

The building will feature elements of brick and stone that replicates the traditional architectural that exists along York Road, Mueller said, adding that retail spaces will range in size from 1,600 to 8,000 square feet.

Mueller said the York Road corridor is considered highly desirable, because 40,000 vehicles pass the property daily and more than 80,000 consumers live within a three-mile radius and have an average household income of more than $100,000 a year.

"The demographics surrounding this site will satisfy the requirements of nearly any end-user," he said.

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