By Paige Jones, Frederick News Post
Monday, February 29, 2016
To the naked eye, the long-vacant Frederick Towne Mall remains unchanged since it closed in 2013.
The parking lots and hallways once bustling with shoppers remain empty and silent. Signs outside the once vibrant mall advertising shops and services are faded, some disintegrating from age and neglect.
Plans to demolish the former mall at 1301 W. Patrick St. and redevelop the space as a shopping center are moving forward, but not in a visible way, said Justin Kiska, president of the Golden Mile Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the residential and economic climate on U.S. 40 in Frederick.
“Right now, the work being done is nothing anyone can actually see,” Kiska wrote in an email.
Crews are working to remove the former mall’s HVAC system, which was also used by its neighbors, the department store Boscov’s and discount store Ollie’s, and install separate systems, according to Kiska.
“Because of the way the whole site was developed, all of the HVAC for the entire property was one system,” he wrote, noting new HVAC systems must be set up for Boscov’s and Ollie’s before demolition can begin.
The property owner Rockwood Capital declined to comment. Caroline Luz, a spokeswoman for the real estate investment company, told The Frederick News-Post to “check back in a few months.”
Once construction on the HVAC systems is finished, Kiska said he believes the building’s demolition will happen soon after. Plans for a demolition event in the late spring or early summer is currently in the works.
“Everything is moving along … nothing happens quickly,” he said with a laugh during a follow-up interview, referring to construction.
The new shopping center known as the Frederick Towne Center will include a 155,000-square-foot Wal-Mart and two smaller lots. The long-vacant mall will be demolished except for Boscov’s and Home Depot.
Adam Greenberg, the Mid-Atlantic director of leasing for the project developer DLC Management Corp., said he believes construction will be complete in mid- to late 2017, rather than earlier in the year.
As of last week, the shopping center has no confirmed tenants. The company is in talks with several national and local businesses, and Greenberg expects to announce signed leases within the next two months.
“We have been very active in reaching out to tenants locally and nationally, trying to bring high-quality users to be part of the project,” he said.
Greenberg said he hopes to fill the 15 to 16 potential tenant spots prior to construction.
“Ideally, we’d like to be as leased up as possible before they begin construction,” Greenberg said. “I do expect by the time the project is delivered, it will be fully leased or close to it.”