Purchase of struggling Bowie mall brings hope for revitalization -- Gazette.Net


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To some, the partially boarded-up mall at Bowie Market Place may be an eyesore, but when Allen Chaney looks at it, he sees potential.

“It doesn’t look so good, but it’s a great location,” said Chaney, manager and founder of Market Place-based Chaney Tire and Auto, an automotive service center.

Chaney’s not the only one who sees potential. Ownership of the site has changed hands as Berman Enterprises, a Rockville-based corporation, on June 6 purchased the shopping center located at 3206 Superior Lane in Bowie.

The more than 20-acre site was bought from JBG Rosenfeld Retail of Chevy Chase, said Carter Davis, a vice president with JBG Rosenfeld who confirmed the sale.

The purchase marks Berman Enterprises’ first step into the Bowie market, said Kevin Berman, vice president of the company. The company is still assessing what to do with the site and has no time line for development, though Berman said the mall will most likely be torn down.

“We’re really investing in what we think is a great community,” he said.

Neither Berman Enterprises nor JBG Rosenfeld would state the selling price, but Davis said the property was sold for less than $7 million. Property records most likely wouldn’t reflect the sale for six months, said Ted Kowkaluka, a senior planner with Prince George’s County’s planning office.

JBG Rosenfeld had purchased the land in 2006 for about $23 million, according to county property records.

Market Place had been an economic hub for the city as far back as the 1960s, said Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson. In the past decade, the site has struggled, and in 2012 it lost its anchor, Safeway supermarket, city officials said.

The site once boasted 30 businesses but now is home to around seven on the exterior of the shopping center as the indoor portion of the mall has been shuttered for more than a decade, Chaney said. City officials and residents said upkeep at the mall didn’t keep pace as newer retail options were constructed in the area.

When Karen DeFazio came to Bowie in 1991, Bowie Market Place was a fine place to shop, she said.

“When we first started going there, it was pleasant. There were nice shops in there. There was a Safeway. It was a very nice experience,” she said.

Now it’s been years since she last shopped there, she said.

“I would hope it would be renovated. It’s a shame the way it’s gone downhill,” DeFazio said. “For a while it was a ghost town in there.”

Davis wouldn’t comment on why JBG Rosenfeld hadn’t revitalized the mall but said the company still saw potential in the site.

“We thought it was time for someone else to execute on the redevelopment,” Davis said. “I think it’s just a matter of finding an anchor tenant and I think it will [fill] up quickly.”

The change in ownership was welcomed by city officials, who complained the site has lacked direction for years. City officials are working to schedule a meeting with Berman Enterprises to learn its vision for the site, Robinson said.

amccombs@gazette.net