Oak Ridge Mills Inching Along in South Hagerstown

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 11.00.54 PMHAGERSTOWN, Md. — A proposed retail and restaurant shopping center in South Hagerstown by Bowman Development is starting to show some movement.

Oak Ridge Mills, located just north of the Sheetz at the South Potomac Street and Oak Ridge Drive intersection, has filed for a grading permit to move dirt, according to Hagerstown city officials.

However, no building permits for any stores, banks or retail spaces have been filed, according to city staff. An updated site plan would still need to be submitted as well.

The project at 1362 S. Potomac St., had its 2008 site plan renewed on July 8, 2015, according to city documents, but that’s just to keep from doing additional paperwork if they decide to change.

It is somewhat risky for developers to show and advertise space before they receive regulatory approvals. Some developments do show prospective spaces to see if they can land an anchor or at least commitments from a couple of tenants to attract others and go through getting the necessary approvals to start construction.

Still, cities could see something where there isn’t enough parking, so square footage is reduced, or a drive-thru isn’t going to work in a certain space.

With that said, the site plan you see above in this post could change drastically or stay close to the sketch. Either way, the city and other agencies haven’t signed off on that plan.

The rumor mill around Hagerstown has pegged a Cheesecake Factory here. Right now, nothing corroborates that rumor. No building permits. Nothing identifying that business on site plans. No company announcement. No job listings for Hagerstown.

Still, I don’t see Cheesecake Factory—if it would ever come to Hagerstown—going at that intersection. It’s in an odd spot near schools, a Sheetz that needs its exterior updated and the neighboring South View Townhomes wouldn’t fit within its upscale casual image.

It would need to be further south, but if anyone knows of a Cheesecake Factory in the same shopping center as a Walmart let me know, but I don’t think there is.

— Charles Schelle | @ImYourChuck

Hagerstown Holiday Inn Express Expanding

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — The Holiday Inn Express  & Suites off Interstate 81 in Halfway is hoping to add more rooms, according to a building permit application.

Holiday Inn Express, 241 Railway Lane, is applying to build a three-story addition to add 24 guest rooms, a first-floor vestibule, maintenance and housekeeping rooms plus a new staircase to serve the rooms. The application was filed with Washington County Permits and Inspections on June 13.

The hotel, opened in 2001, is on land owned by The Bowman Group and currently has 83 rooms.

That corner of Railway Lane is going to be active if the expansion goes through. As first reported here, a Chili’s Bar and Grill is planned next door.

— By Charles Schelle | @ImYourChuck

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse Coming to former Hagerstown Sears Auto

seattletukwilaWASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse will be coming to the former Sears Auto Center at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Md., in 2017.

According to a Seritage Growth Properties quarterly report, BJ’s Brewhouse, as it’s commonly called, is expected to start construction in the fourth quarter of this year and open in the fourth quarter of 2017, which is sometime between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017.

The restaurant will be about 7,000 to 8,000 square feet, according to a Seritage news release.

As I previously reported, both the Hagerstown Sears and Sears Auto Center properties are tagged for recapture of its retail spaces, advertised by KLNB. Seritage is a real estate investment trust whose main investments are Sears and Kmart properties, according to its website. Up to half of the Sears department store in the mall is being recaptured for an unnamed retailer and the Sears Auto Center, which closed in May, will be completely renovated. Actually, likely demolished and new space will be rebuilt.

The project is 15,000 square feet, according to the report, and “additional restaurant users” will have spaces there.

The Huntington Beach, Calif., restaurant group is a casual-plus operation that has four formats: BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, BJ’s Pizza and Grill and BJ’s Grill.

The signature dish at BJ’s is its deep dish pizza, and BJ’s offers vegetarian, gluten-free and other options among its pizzas, sandwiches, salads and more.

What’s impressive in the age of “no reservations” is that BJ’s does have a reservations policy:

We take reservations for large parties of 10 or more. Your party must be 75% complete in order to be seated. We generally do not take reservations for the first 30 days of a new restaurant opening, so that our new staff can become even more capable of servicing our large parties. Please contact your local BJ’s Restaurant for more information.

The Hagerstown location is tabbed right now as a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, which is a format the company is focused on expanding among its 175 restaurants and counting in 23 states. This would be the fourth location in Maryland behind Frederick, Laurel and Towson.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 9.00.05 PM

The Restaurant & Brewhouse format does not have on-site brewing and the BJ’s branded beers are brewed by a partner, according to the restaurant’s website. No building permits have been filed as of June 14, but it’s unlikely the format would change.

— By Charles Schelle @ImYourChuck

Full Service Content for Engineering Program

Arundel-Mills-Engineering (fcp3)Frostburg State University’s presence goes beyond Allegany County.

The B.S. in engineering with a concentration in electrical engineering [because there is a difference between that and an electrical engineering B.S.] is housed at the Arundel Mills Regional Higher Education. If you shop at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md., you’ve seen it across the parking lot from the CineMark theaters.

The program has its special challenges to promote. It’s a transfer program, so students already have to be on track to be in the program from the get-go to have the best success. It’s even better if you earn your associate’s degree before you transfer because of the scholarships involved.

And it’s also in a dedicated office building that not many people would realize there are several colleges housing programs there.

However, the advantages easily outweigh those challenges. The location near Fort Meade and the Goddard Space Flight Center and the course projects have you working with experts from NASA and the Department of Defense. Plus, you will make a handsome salary working with one of the many defense contractors or government agencies.

Sounds great, but we didn’t have content beyond informational brochures. I was tasked with coming up with a few items. Continue reading Full Service Content for Engineering Program

When Reporting Feels Like Speed Dating

Sometimes gathering content for public relations purposes can be as if not more hectic than reporting.

You’re going to hear about one of those.

Every spring, FSU has an undergraduate and a separate graduate research symposium to show off students’ in-depth projects. Our office hears about several of the research projects during the academic year and writes about them, but others fall through the cracks or the projects are just coming to a point of being reportable.

A couple weeks before, we receive a print-out of a the program with abstracts, student names and advisors. A co-worker and I sift through the program and divvy up who’s going where. Students are set up in a assembly hall with poster presentations, so it’s a lot like going to a conference or a networking event, or yes, speed dating.

Continue reading When Reporting Feels Like Speed Dating

Sarasota Area Media Follow-up on My Westfield Lawsuit Blog

UPDATE: Sometimes there’s an advantage to being late to the party.

The Herald-Tribune filed its version of the Westfield/Benderson/Dillard’s lawsuit on Thursday, which allowed the reporter to really avoid rehashing or going into the lawsuit much at all.

The reporter lucked out that a second operating agreement/easement appeared in the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s system to give the added detail that as many as three tenants could take up the former Dillard’s space.

Maggie Menderski reported that the easement document revealed that a Florida-based furniture store is expected to move in along with another mystery tenant:

Siesta Retail also is pursuing a lease with Naples-based Clive Daniel Home, according to the documents. The home store has a wide inventory of indoor and outdoor furniture as well as bedding, rugs, flooring and window treatments. Smaller items, such as placemats and throw pillows, also are available. The chain launched in 2011 and opened its second store in Boca Raton in February.

The home store is expected to occupy about 33,000 square feet, leaving about 26,000 square feet for a third, unnamed tenant.

As a footnote, it’s interesting to see the second easement being filed as the existence of an updated agreement/easement being filed was one of the issues in court.

Well, since Benderson had tenants lined up now it probably made sense to avoid further issues and write up a new one given the circumstances.

ORIGINAL: Sarasota, Fla., area media have followed up on my Monday blog about the Westfield/Benderson/Dillard’s lawsuit and uncovered a couple items.

(When shall I expect a check, Alex et. al? Or at least a bottle of Siesta Key Rum?)

The Bradenton Herald was first to run a brief Tuesday night, but the Observer managed to move the story forward Wednesday morning revealing that L.A. Fitness will go into that space and the rest will remain to be seen:

An L.A. Fitness will occupy a little less than half of the 96,000-square-foot space, and is scheduled to open in spring of 2017. The firm has applied for a $60,000 building permit for interior renovations to the property, according to city records.

“We are working on the remainder of the space,” Mathes said in an email.

So the excitement continues!

The City of Sarasota also shows its building permit applications online with notes but this one required a phone call and an email with at least the city or Mathes—whomever could respond first—to see what the permit was actually for. All the city’s permit site says is “former Dillard’s Building.”

Several other permits have been stuck in pending for awhile, ranging from recent applications for staging for the project, utilities relocation and tree removal. The biggie—building the first of the new wings—has been pending for over a year and according to a planner’s note from last week, will have a new permit number entered in now that work is anticipated to move forward.

So yes, now that the lawsuit disappeared, all of this can move forward.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune — the daily paper with the largest circulation and staff in the area — has not published anything on this as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 1, so if there’s anything more uncovered out of that paper’s report if they print something, I’ll add it here.