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Starbucks slated for former bank branch in Bel Air Plaza

Despite prior approval of plans to build a Starbucks in the Bel Air Town Center, the worldwide coffee company has its sights set on a building just across the highway in the Bel Air Plaza shopping center, according to local planners and property owners.

Kevin Small, planning director for the Town of Bel Air, said during a Monday evening town meeting that plans for a Starbucks in the Bel Air Plaza, which is across Route 1 from the Bel Air Town Center, had been approved last week.

"The one that is in the Bel Air Plaza will most likely be the one that will be built, but this is actually, technically, still approved," Small said of the plan for the Town Center Starbucks.

Chris Kurz is a partner in the McGill Development Limited Partnership No.3, the company that owns the Bel Air Town Center.

He said Tuesday the plans to build a Starbucks store were conditionally approved by the members of the town's Planning Commission in the fall of 2013. Commission members wanted the development company to meet several conditions before proceeding with construction.

"We were in the process of doing that when Starbucks decided to go across the street," Kurz said.

The store slated for the Town Center would have to be built from the ground up in space near the Chili's restaurant, and Small noted there were a number of conditions imposed for building there "related to the architectural features of that building."

Small said the planning commission approved plans last week to open a Starbucks store in the former Baltimore County Savings Bank branch in the Bel Air Plaza. That branch include a drive-through facility.

Small also noted that a store slated for the former bank branch would not be affected by state and county-imposed restrictions on building in Bel Air because of water supply issues, since it would go in an existing building and not increase demand on the water supply.

Starbucks officials did not confirm Monday that they would be opening a new store in Bel Air.

Either one would be a second store in downtown, nearly around the corner from the Starbucks in Tollgate Marketplace, which is at Route 24 and Marketplace Drive.

"Starbucks is always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of our customers and we are continually evaluating our store portfolio," officials for the Seattle-based company stated in an e-mail Tuesday. "At this time, we remain focused on serving the Bel Air, MD community at our existing stores and have no store-opening plans to announce."

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