Hmart Opening Brings International Flavor to Golden Mile

May 25, 2017 / / News

By Ryan Marshall, Frederick News Post
Thursday, May, 25, 2017

Hmart2Frederick’s Golden Mile has a diverse range of dining options, and the area will add another on Friday with the long-awaited opening of the Hmart international grocery store.

The store’s grand opening is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m., with Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan and other officials expected to attend.

The store will offer more than 55,000 square feet of Asian and other international food, a bakery, prepared foods, and a food court with various styles of cuisine.

On Wednesday, workers hurried to make final preparations for the opening, stocking shelves and refrigerated cases with kimchi and other items, and chopping salmon to make sushi. Nearby, water gurgled in a tank holding live lobsters.

The store in the Westridge Square Shopping Center will employ about 70 people, spokeswoman Janet Huang said in an email.

Since beginning in New York in 1982, Hmart has more than 90 stores in 13 states, including locations in Catonsville, Ellicott City, Gaithersburg and Wheaton.

In a big shopping center, a grocery store is often the key anchor, said Richard Griffin, the city of Frederick’s director of economic development.

The Golden Mile area is one of the largest concentrations of retail space in the county, and has traditionally been one of the most commercially successful, he said.

He expects that Hmart’s presence will make a huge difference for other tenants in the center.

The store was originally a Giant supermarket, then was the ethnic grocery Gmart, but the location has been vacant for several years, Griffin said.

Gmart opened in September 2013 and closed in November 2014.

Any shopping center needs a solid anchor, and Westridge hasn’t really had one since Giant left in 2011, said Steve Chung, the owner of Westridge Liquors, which is also in the shopping center.

He hopes that Hmart will bring in more foot traffic, but said he’ll wait and see.

Deb Reynolds, president of the Golden Mile Alliance, said she thinks Hmart is the largest business to open on the Golden Mile in several years.

The site can draw a lot of foot traffic from the neighborhoods around the shopping center, she said.

Hmart’s selection can serve the diverse population that lives in the communities along the Golden Mile, and is a great chance to draw more market share to the area, Griffin said.

People from Frederick have had to go to Montgomery County to get some types of food, and the Hmart store provides a chance to keep that money in Frederick County, he said.

Reynolds agreed that the Hmart may serve a clientele that hasn’t had many options in Frederick.

“I just think this brings maybe a twist to the traditional grocery store,” she said.

Elizabeth Chung, executive director of the Asian American Center of Frederick, said the county’s Asian community is looking forward to the store’s arrival.

Chung goes to the Hmart store in Gaithersburg several times a month for fresh seafood, and for spices and other things that can be difficult to find in traditional supermarkets.

Food and cooking are important parts of Chinese and other Asian cultures, Chung said, and an authentic ethnic grocery store can be a great comfort to people who miss their native country.

“Just the fact that you feel like home is very important,” she said.

Continued …

Westside Regional Park Moving Closer to Reality

May 18, 2017 / / News

By Mallory Panuska, Frederick News Post
Thursday, May 18, 2017

57a2bb3034046.imageFrederick’s Westside Regional Park is inching closer to reality, with a second task force meeting out of the way and $2 million for construction set for approval Thursday in the city’s fiscal 2018 budget.

The future multi-use recreational facility is slated for a large tract of vacant farmland along Butterfly Lane known as Hargett Farm. City officials spent $18 million in 2009 to purchase the farm and have been paying $1.5 million annually on the debt service.

The Board of Aldermen is set Thursday to approve $2 million in the fiscal 2018 capital spending plan for park construction. If approved, the funds would be the city’s first major investment into the project’s development since the purchase of the farm.

The park’s price tag was nearly $100 million at conception, but members of an ad hoc task force are working to determine exactly what will go in it and how much it will cost. Officials hope to use both public and private funds to pay for it.

The $2 million is set to pay for construction of an internal access road into the park. Zack Kershner, the city’s director of public works, said Wednesday that the money is already included in the budget to pay for design of the access road and for realignment of nearby Butterfly Lane to support the project. Kershner said the request for proposals for design of both roads went out last week. He expects the designs to take six to nine months to complete, with construction bids expected to go out in spring 2018.

In budget discussions last week, several of the aldermen questioned whether some of the $2 million could be reallocated for other projects in fiscal 2018. The idea was ultimately squashed, though, with Alderman Michael O’Connor and Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak both speaking adamantly against moving the money.

“I will not vote yes on a budget that does not have that money in it,” Kuzemchak said in a May 10 workshop.

Kershner said Wednesday he expects to spend the full $2 million on a purchase order for a contractor to complete the work. He also said the money to complete the Butterfly Lane realignment is already included in the fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 budgets.

Aldermen in January approved a $98.5 million “bubble plan” for the park. The plan is a simpler version of a detailed proposal that elected officials initially rejected in August. It identifies sections, or bubbles, and lists facilities, amenities and infrastructure that could go in each one.

The original plan specifically called for a sports complex with multi-use fields and a stadium, a water park, an indoor swimming center, festival grounds and associated park facilities, among other elements.

In an effort to obtain a better plan and vision for the park, Mayor Randy McClement in March created the Westside Regional Park Task Force. The ad hoc committee, made up of a cross section of community, government and business representatives, is tasked with meeting for one year and tackle a series of goals, which include completing the park’s design and engineering, overseeing implementation of the approved bubble plan, and developing design standards for the park.

The group meets monthly and held its second meeting Wednesday. Committee members at the meeting discussed a proposal from the National Park Service to rent storage space for things such as maintenance equipment, trucks and trailers in exchange for storing and renovating some of the buildings on the farm.

Committee members also discussed potential subcommittees they could form to help narrow the focus of the group.

The members appointed a commission and vision subcommittee and field trip subcommittee Wednesday.

The commission and vision subcommittee will discuss creation of a mission statement for the group.

The field trip subcommittee will plan and coordinate trips to other parks and recreational facilities in the region to obtain ideas and inspiration about how they run and what may or may not work at Westside Regional Park.

Committee members also hope to bring in representatives from organizations including the Maryland Stadium Authority and USA Swimming to provide information about what types of facilities may be needed and how they should be constructed.

Continued …