Retail rumor mill in LaVale

[CHIPOTLE: Looking for the story on Chipotle coming to LaVale? Click Here.]

[UPDATE Feb. 2018: Freestanding Chick-fil-A Coming to LaVale.]

(Note: If you are reading this post in the first quarter of 2017, click here for an update.)

Originally Posted May 31, 2016

Hearing about what’s going on the corner of National Highway and Winchester Road in LaVale, Md., is like playing the telephone game.

Ask just about anyone in the area and they’ll give you what they heard about what’s coming to the former Hafer Chapel of the Hills Funeral Home at 1302 National Highway.

[Again, if you’re still reading this, this article was originally published in May 2016. On April 26, 2017, developer PennTex reached an agreement with Dollar General for 1302 National Highway.]

The problem is there is no paper trail giving anything away. At least no electronic paper trail. Writing about a retail rumor should give you an idea about how I go about reporting these deals.

These are just people in the community working different jobs that I’ve run into that have each heard the same rumor. Maybe from different people, maybe the same person.

Three different people told me a Five Guys Burgers and Fries and a Panera Bread was going there.

Another person told me there was supposed to be three restaurants there. And then another person said they heard that the third restaurant would be Dunkin’ Donuts.

I saw the same person who told about about Dunkin’ Donuts and said Five Guys isn’t going in—it’s going to be a building with Chipotle and Dunkin’ and that one of the local Fire Marshals signed off on the plan.

Well, none of this is panning out yet.

[Editor’s Note: Chipotle is coming here after all. Looking for the story on Chipotle coming to LaVale? Click Here.]

Continue reading Retail rumor mill in LaVale


Westfield drops lawsuit against Benderson, Dillard’s in Sarasota mall redevelopment

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(This story is available for freelance opportunities.)

By Charles Schelle

A prolonged lawsuit has been dropped that kept the Westfield Southgate mall in Sarasota, Fla., from being fully redeveloped into Westfield Siesta Key.

Whether it was Dillard’s, Benderson Development’s or Westfield’s fault would have been determined in a jury trial if the case would have been allowed to proceed.

At the very least, the existence of a legal battle delayed redevelopment because why would Benderson Development, who owns the former Dillard’s, work with the operators of Southgate to redevelop that parcel as part of a mall redevelopment when they are being sued and might have had to pay damages if it lost a trial?

And if one of the arguments in a lawsuit is that all of this prevented redevelopment of Southgate from moving forward, it would play well that no matter what, Westfield not to proceed with the added wings and plaza during the lawsuit.

On Aug. 8, 2014, Westfield sued Benderson Development, Taubman Centers and Dillard’s, alleging that those three companies used inside knowledge to attract Dillard’s to build a new store in the also-new The Mall at University Town Center in northern Sarasota County.

Westfield argued in court documents that it was sharing redevelopment information with Dillard’s to expand their store and upgrade offerings with Southgate’s redevelopment to rebrand the mall into Westfield Siesta Key and played the company to instead close the store and go to the Mall at UTC, which is a joint project with Manatee County-based Benderson Development and Taubman.

And Westfield additionally argued that since the overall mall’s expansion was predicated on Dillard’s giving the OK, a withdrawal of consent stalled the continued redevelopment, according to Westfield’s complaint. Without that consent, the mall legally could not redevelop, Westfield argued.

“On April 21, 2014, Dillard sent a letter to the City’s Planning and Development Department purporting to withdraw the Consent of Owner it had already executed nearly five years earlier,” Westfield wrote in its complaint.

Westfield wrote in the complaint that it had restaurants and retailers ready for its new plaza and new retail spaces for expansion. Continue reading Westfield drops lawsuit against Benderson, Dillard’s in Sarasota mall redevelopment

Goodwill opening, Monkey Joe’s leaving South End Shopping Center

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 11.04.43 AM.pngGoodwill Horizon will open a store in Hagerstown, Md.’s South End Shopping Center while Monkey Joe’s will vacate its space in the shopping center.

A real estate brochure from MacKenzie Commercial shows the company is advertising a 14,600-square-foot space for lease where Monkey Joe’s is at now, 1113 Maryland Ave., Hagerstown. That’s between Dollar General and Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts.

You can see the photo above showing Monkey Joe’s still in the space and the brochure showing that space is now for lease. It’s unclear if Monkey Joe’s has found another space in the area, but the bounce house biz has heated up in Hagerstown when Sky Zone Trampoline Park opened on Insurance Way. I reached out to Monkey Joe’s via Twitter and will update if they add any detail.

The center is owned and managed by Coastal Equities, which does not show the Monkey Joe’s for lease on its site yet, but both MacKenzie and Coastal both reveal that Goodwill will open a new store beside Kid’s First Swim School.

The 18,691-square-foot Goodwill will split space in the former Big Lots, according to Coastal Equities’ website. 

—Charles Schelle | ImYourChuck

Is Tractor Supply Company coming to Boonsboro?

13320381_1574854029478749_1120825670994176112_oTwo initial tenants have been revealed for the large-scale Fox Gap development at 6634 and 6635 Old National Pike in Boonsboro.

Real estate advertisements show that a Tractor Supply Company and a High’s have committed to Ostertag Pass at Fox Gap in Boonsboro, which proposed to build 88 single family homes; 57 townhomes and six commercial lots.

A bank, auto parts retailer, pharmacy and another medium-sized retailer is also planned for Fox Gap, but no word of who has committed.

However, the same ReMax Commercial brochure includes both a May 2015 and a January 2016 rendering. In the  updated rendering, the lot that shows Tractor Supply in the old flyer now shows a future lot that will be part of Phase II.

You can see that design here:

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That could either mean Tractor Supply de-committed between May of last year and January of this year or because of conditions on the development, it will be awhile until that lot is allowed to be developed, so there may be a soft agreement in place for Tractor Supply to come but they could easily back out based on what happens with the planned community.


Chili’s Coming to Hagerstown

(Update: Chili’s is now open! Click to get the hours, directions and phone number for the Hagerstown Chili’s.)


Chili’s Bar and Grill is finally coming to Hagerstown, after almost coming here in 2008.

The restaurant has its building permit approved by Washington County government for a 6,233 square-foot restaurant at 245 Railway Lane, according to county records. The land is part of parcels owned by Bowman Development. That’s tucked behind the Plaza Office building and wedged between the Ramada Inn and Buffalo Wild Wings.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, according to county records, and anticipates hiring 50 to 60 employees.

According to a 2007 Herald-Mail article, the company planned to open beside Chuck E Cheese. And it is the same franchise group — Chesapeake Foods — that is both opening this one and the one in Martinsburg, W.Va.

An opening date has not been announced.

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Mission BBQ, Torrid and Sears Redevelopment coming to Valley Mall

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By Charles Schelle | ImYourChuck on WordPress

Follow on Twitter @ImYourChuck

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — The Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Md., will see about a dozen changes this year as it continues its redevelopment to focus on adding restaurants and experiential retail to cater to millennials.

I covered these in separate posts on my Facebook page and will condense it all here. There’s a lot going on as retailers are shuffling around to fit in all of these changes.

So, here…we…go…

Here’s what’s coming and then I’ll go into how this all makes sense. The information comes from both Washington County Department of Planning records and a leasing brochure for the mall from its owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, or PREIT.



  • Journeys and Journeys Kidz
  • Tobacco Den
  • Allegany Optical


  • Sears Auto Center (closed in May) [See above for update]
  • Potentially half of Sears’ department store

Mission BBQ

The former Susquehanna Bank near the Sears entrance and current Tobacco Den space is being carved out for several projects, creating three spaces along the mall’s facade to continue a town center look.

Mission BBQ and the Valley Mall have now filed a building permit for its construction for the new restaurant on Thursday, according to county records, in part of that space. It will be located next to the mall entrance.

The 4,000-square-foot restaurant will feature an outdoor patio and will be open 11 a.m. to 9 .m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, according to the permit application. Continue reading Mission BBQ, Torrid and Sears Redevelopment coming to Valley Mall

The Importance of Inclusion

Sometimes people forget to tell you something really important because they assume you know.

I’ve had that happen a lot in newsroom from the person in the cubicle next to me or maybe from across the room. On a large campus, sometimes that happens, too.

I fortunately was recommended a student for a video I produced at FSU for a voiceover because I requested an international voice.

She did an amazing job and after she finished recording in the studio, she asked the radio director if his station plays student music albums. Oh, yes.

We glanced at her songs online and she had music videos. And she told us more. The biggest nugget among her talents was that she acted in a Disney Latino version of “High School Musical.”

Her name is Sofia Agüero Petros. She’s from Argentina and wanted to study abroad in the U.S. She found Frostburg State and she loves her semester spent here. This is her story:

Continue reading The Importance of Inclusion

Five’s A Crowd at Frostburg

Family stories always make nice around graduation and commencement.

This was my first time talking to quintuplets, however. And I didn’t realize any of them were one of five going to Frostburg State at the same time even though I met three of them. Someone finally told me and from there, it was the right time to do a story because they are graduating.

Each of the Groff quintuplets wanted to have an identity–Eric, Erin, Ian, Maureen and Diana. It worked out because I never connected the dots to lump them together without a first name.

After the story was released, WBAL radio, Fox45 in Baltimore and other stations either ran a partial version of the release or in its entirety. Continue reading Five’s A Crowd at Frostburg