Towne Centre at Laurel to kick off opening March 28 -- Gazette.Net


Construction of the Towne Center at Laurel is moving on schedule, and patrons will be able to start making use of the city’s newest retail option by the end of March — starting with the re-opening of a familiar business.

Burlington Coat Factory, which was the last store to close when the former Laurel Mall was demolished, will kick off the first phase of the center’s opening March 28, said center organizers.

The site, developed by Owings Mill-based Greenberg Gibbons will house Maryland’s first B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse and 13 other retailers newly contracted to open at Towne Centre at Laurel this year, said Greenberg president Tom Fitzpatrick during a presentation at the Laurel City Council meeting Monday.

The $130 million redevelopment of the former Laurel Mall site has been under construction for two years, Fitzpatrick said.

He said the company has completed around 95 percent of the first phase and has leased about 85 percent of available retail space.

“We’re excited to be 60 days out from opening our Phase 1 with the reopening of Burlington Coat and subsequent openings starting in the fall of this year,” he said. “The weather is hurting us a little right now, but we’re going to be catching up, and right now we’re on schedule.”

The first Harris Teeter grocery store in Prince George’s County will open at the new town center Sept. 14 and lead the second phase of the project, followed by new tenants Regal Cinema, Outback Steakhouse, Old Navy, Panera Bread, Kay Jewelers, Massage Envy and others.

The leasing of the space to individual tenants was entirely handled by Greenberg Gibbons, though Fitzpatrick joked that he accommodated Laurel Mayor Craig Moe’s partiality to Panera Bread.

Fitzpatrick said the construction phase of the project employed around 1,000 workers, and that the new town center will create 1,500 new permanent jobs once completed. He also said the company also hopes to incorporate a residential block of about 300 apartments.

Anthony Thomas of Laurel, assistant pastor at Laurel Lakes Christian Center, said he was pleased to hear about the new jobs.

“I think it’s great, especially if its going to provide some jobs for the community,” he said. “Even the housing aspect, I didn’t know about that previously so I think that’s a good idea as well.”

Helen Woods of Laurel said she is looking forward to taking her grandmother to watch movies at the new Regal Cinema theater, which will contain about 12 screens, Fitzpatrick said.

Currently, she drives to the theater at Arundel Mills outlet mall, which she said can be overcrowded.

“They didn’t have enough parking before the casino. It’s absolutely crazy,” she said. “[But] whatever the grandma wants. You got a 90-year-old grandma, you do what she says.”

Moe said he is excited that the city can finally reclaim and redevelop the former Laurel Mall property after attempting to do so several years ago with a different developer.

“This is an important project to the city,” he said. “The people of Laurel deserve this type of center and these types of stores. It’s been long overdue.”

A full list of the new Towne Centre at Laurel stores can be found through the Greenberg Gibbons website.