As buildings nearby are set to be torn down, Su Casa plots Ellicott City expansion

Su Casa, a furniture and home goods store, plans to more than double the size of its Ellicott City location this fall as the shop expands into an adjacent space on the town’s historic Main Street.

The store plans to expand its footprint to about 10,000 square feet — up from the nearly 4,000 square feet it currently occupies — providing room to grow its inventory, put on workshops and host other community events. Su Casa’s expansion comes as other business owners are vacating Old Ellicott City over flood concerns, while Howard County officials are proposing demolishing up to 19 buildings in the town to lessen the impacts of future flooding.

The new Su Casa space, set to open this fall, will allow owner Nick Johnson to more than double his inventory, and add a “home theater” area for children (and spouses) to lounge while their family members shop, an interior design studio and a screen-printing workshop area for Baltimore-based artist Charlie Barton.

Su Casa is already planning to host events with other local business owners.

“We love the idea of people being in the space and using the space,” Johnson said. “Why not open it up to 25 people that need to come and meet?”

Su Casa’s original Ellicott City location opened in 2000 at the base of Main Street, and relocated to its current digs at 8307 Main St. 12 years ago. The shop closed after the May 27 flood, and reopened about six weeks later. That was three weeks sooner than after the 2016 flood, when it took Su Casa nine weeks to reopen.

Three days after the flood, Johnson brought in 15 volunteers and six trucks to clear mud and inventory from his store. At the time, he said he wasn’t ready to commit to reopening in Ellicott City.

“I said, ‘We can’t do this again,’” he said.

But his landlord cleaned the mud from the building, and offered him additional square footage from an adjacent shop whose owner chose to retire after the flood — a space Johnson said he’d coveted since opening the second Main Street store.

Since the flood, workers have been renovating the building to prepare for the expansion and shoring up the exterior to prevent future water damage, including filling in a doorway where floodwater previously crept into the building.

“We’re reasonably convinced — barring anything more seriously catastrophic than the last [flood] — that the building is pretty much water tight at this point,” Johnson said.

The historic mill town has endured two floods since 2016 that have devastated businesses, displaced residents and led many to question whether they would return. Howard County proposed plans last week to demolish up to 19 buildings in the town as part of short-term actions to mitigate future floods.

Johnson said he was nervous when he heard those plans included a plan to tear down La Palapa Grill & Cantina, which shares an address with Su Casa. But Johnson said Howard County Councilman Jon Weinstein assured him the part of the building containing Su Casa wouldn’t be demolished.

“It sort of hurts a little bit emotionally, but the importance of making the town safe and convincing the town that it’s safe is sort of paramount to finishing the redevelopment,” Johnson said.

In addition to Ellicott City, Su Casa store has shops in Fells Point, Bethany Beach, Del., and Ocean View, Del.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

Copyright © 2019, Howard County Times, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
34°