Officials focusing on Landover Mall

Abandoned shopping center is down the road from site of new Wegmans

Thursday, June 8, 2006

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Greg Dohler⁄The Gazette
A demolition crew works Tuesday at Landover Mall, which officials say will be redeveloped.

Now that Prince George’s County has landed its first major upscale retailer — Wegmans Food Market in Landover — county and business officials have turned their attention to nearby Landover Mall, which for four years has been an eyesore and vivid reminder of the economic development obstacles the county faces.

Arthur Turner, chairman of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce’s economic development committee, has criticized owner Lerner Enterprises of North Bethesda for its failure to revitalize the mall.

‘‘Landover Mall has been a black eye on the county, because of the deterioration that Lerner allowed to happen at the mall,” Turner said. ‘‘While there’s been an effort to revitalize Landover Mall, the biggest obstacle has been the owner, and we have continued to work around them.”

The mall — on Route 202 near FedEx Field — is across from a used-car dealership and the 173,495-square-foot Landover Crossing Shopping Center, which has lost both its anchor stores in two years. Sam’s Club closed its doors at the 19-acre shopping center in August, delivering a blow to a center that had already lost Circuit City — its other anchor — to the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo.

But before the area gets a major face-lift, much of the land would have to be rezoned, said County Councilman David Harrington (D-Dist. 5) of Cheverly.

While Landover Mall is important to the city’s revitalization, it is not the key component, Harrington said.

‘‘I don’t think it necessarily depends on Landover Mall,” Harrington said. ‘‘The days of having a mall like Landover doesn’t speak to the current marketplace. The development of the Woodmore Towne Centre will help the development of Landover Mall.”

Harrington said he met Friday with Lerner officials, who agreed to develop a mixed-use project on the 110-acre property. Lerner officials are scheduled to meet with residents for feedback on the project in the next two weeks, he said. Portions of the mall are now being demolished.

Lerner representatives did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission will spend the next two years analyzing Landover Mall and its vicinity, said John Funk, project facilitator of the Landover Mall and Vicinity Planning Study. The commission analyzed redevelopment opportunities for the area during the project’s first phase, which was completed in April. Starting in July, the commission will create a master plan for the area.

‘‘It’s really a redevelopment strategy that the County Council asked us to look into,” Funk said.

Landover Mall closed its doors in 2002, leaving only a Sears that remains open. Last September, Dimensions Healthcare System targeted the mall as a site for a $300 million hospital, complete with restaurants, hotel and a 250-bed hospital tower, but those plans have stalled.

‘‘There wasn’t any fire under that,” Harrington said. ‘‘There was some interest to move there, but they had no funds to build there.”

Down the road, Petrie Ross Ventures of Annapolis is developing the 245-acre, $78.5 million Woodmore Towne Centre, anchored by a 130,000-square-foot Wegmans Food Market. The store, scheduled to open in late 2008, will have about 700 employees, said Ralph A. Uttaro, senior vice president of real estate development for the Rochester, N.Y., chain.

Uttaro has called Landover an ideal location because of its proximity to the Capital Beltway.

Turner agreed, calling Landover the center of Prince George’s and saying the city’s pending revitalization was a long time in the making.

‘‘It’s not an accident. It’s by design,” Turner said. ‘‘Seeds have been planted for quite some time and now they’re germinating.”

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