By Jen Fifield; Frederick News Post
Monday, March 30, 2015
In the words of Justin Kiska, for a while, the Golden Mile has been a bit dead.
The U.S. 40 corridor just west of U.S. 15 hasn’t seen much new investment in years, especially since Frederick Towne Mall has been vacant.
That’s changing though, said Kiska, president of the board of the Golden Mile Alliance. Plans for redevelopment of the mall site are moving forward, and other businesses are moving in.
“There’s so much going on,” he said.
Demolition of the mall should start this summer, Kiska said, and a new Wal-Mart will follow. Other new commercial space will come with that redevelopment, opening the opportunity for several new businesses, he said.
“There will be life again in one of the largest shopping areas in Frederick,” he said.
Some new life is already coming to Westridge Square.
For a few months now, a banner has been hanging on the old location of the Gmart, announcing that another international store with a similar name, Hmart, is moving in.
It’s almost deja vu for those who frequent the area, as a banner hung on the storefront for months before Gmart moved in, too. That didn’t work out so well, as Gmart opened in September 2013 and closed in November 2014.
Kiska said he doesn’t know when Hmart will open, and representatives from the company didn’t return a phone call.
Next to the Hmart, a family from Arlington, Virginia, plans to open a new Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken restaurant, The Golden Beak. The restaurant should open within the next month.
The restaurant owners, Darian Mian and his parents, Niaz and Alecia Mian, saw the location, which is visible from U.S. 40 and has ample parking, as a perfect place for the restaurant.
“There is a good, large and diverse population in Frederick,” he said. “It’s the perfect place for this type of business.”
The opening of the Hmart will provide for great business, he said.
“The store brings a lot of people from different walks of life,” he said.
There is already a Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken restaurant near U.S. 40, Sardi’s.
Mian said his family’s plan is to serve only fresh ingredients cooked on-site.
Another store appears to be almost ready to open in Westridge Square.
There is a sign for United Grow Supply where the Oreck vacuum store used to be, and the store is stocked with gardening and landscaping supplies.
Shops always seem to be moving in and out, said Michael Bateman, one of the owners of Il Forno, also in the complex.
After the Giant moved out, it seemed as if Il Forno almost became the anchor, Bateman said.
“Luckily, we had built such a good client base that they still came for us,” he said.
Il Forno has been in the square for 25 years, and Bateman has been an owner for 15 years, so he has seen a lot of change.
While he said he is looking forward to the Hmart and Wal-Mart, he said the restaurant won’t rely on it.
“We take care of ourselves, and worry about ourselves,” he said.
Asked for the secret to staying alive on the Golden Mile, he said, it’s simple.
“You have to have a good product, and you have to treat people like family,” he said.