It’s been a longtime coming for Verizon to finally break into Hagerstown. The LTE coverage map shows that most of Washington County is now covered, but it’s surprising it hasn’t happened sooner considering the number of residents who commute daily from the Hagerstown region into the Verizon coverage area.
Unfortunately, this does not mean Verizon FIOS TV and Internet will be available in the county. Verizon offers “high speed” Internet up to 15 Mbps through DSL but no broadband service, leaving Schurz Communications’ Antietam Cable, I’m sorry, Antietam Broadband, as the only game in town. Only certain parts of the county have Comcast as an option.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md.—Peruvian-American fusion restaurant Sardi’s Chicken is pecking away to open inside the former Pizza Hut at 100 Railway Lane in Hagerstown.
Sardi’s Chicken of Hagerstown LLC applied for a permit to remodel the hut-shaped building across from Massey’s Hyundai and Kmart, according to Washington County building records.
Beltsville-based Sardi’s started in 2008 and now has 10 Maryland locations, including one in Frederick plus one Pennsylvania restaurant in Philadelphia.
The menu includes chicken with Peruvian spikes, beef short ribs, marinated lamb chops, skirt steak, plantains and more. It’s a mix of Peruvian food, Southern food and as common with many modern Peruvian dishes, you’ll find a Chinese influence thanks to the Chinese immigration that Peru experiences. The Chinese-Peruvian dishes always make for a flavorful combination.
The restaurant’s catering business also catered President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball, according to the Sardi’s website.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Hurricane Grill & Wings will be blowing into Hagerstown soon from Florida.
The website for Valley Plaza’s owners show the wings, burgers and beer restaurant will be coming to the former Cinqo de Mayo restaurant in front of Kmart and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. The shopping center also has a Tractor Supply Co., store. (The plaza is now actively trying to find a replacement for the aptly named Hard Times Cafe, too.)
Originally built as a Ground Round (oh, I feel old now), the new Hurricane Grill space has been a revolving door for over a decade.
Hurricane Grill & Wings is based in Fort Piece, Florida, which is on the Atlantic coast halfway between Cocoa Beach and West Palm Beach. I’ve dined at their Sarasota location that also went in a revolving space for restaurants at the Westfield Sarasota Square mall. It didn’t last long and closed only after. I ate at the Sarasota location and liked the outdoor element that could only work in Florida and the ambience matched the name and location. Will I feel like I’m in Florida there, sipping on a margarita in Maryland?
The big question is how long will this location survive? Not only did the Sarasota location close, but after I moved from Sarasota, Hurricane Grill opened in a former LeRoy Selmon’s in Bradenton, Fla. It had a kitchen fire and never reopened. It also had a construction lien placed against it.
Its Laurel, Md., location is already closed. However, the Elkton, Md., location is still open.
“The Hurricane Grill & Wings brand is on the move, and we are proud that Steve and Chris Girard want to be a part of this exciting time for the brand,” said Martin O’Dowd, president of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “Hurricane Grill & Wings is growing rapidly, and the Western Maryland market is an area that we’ve long targeted for franchised growth.”
“With our vast experience in the franchise industry as multi-unit franchisees for other restaurant concepts, we knew that Hurricane Grill & Wings would be the best brand to add to our portfolio for their superior product and core values,” said Chris Girard, franchisee of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “We look forward to inviting the Hagerstown community to Live with Flavor® at Hurricane Grill & Wings.”
Hopefully the Girard family figures out how to avoid the issues (and a fire) that the other locations encountered.
The brochure simply says “Opening 2018.” Belk’s logo isn’t on the brochure, but it’s likely it could go in the former Macy’s space, but it’s still very possible it could go to Sears.
The smallest Belk is around 100,000 square feet. The shuttered Macy’s was around 120,000 square feet. Sears is 123,400 square feet. Last year, a leasing brochure showed that about half the space, or 52,325 square feet, would be available for lease.
The Washington County Board of Elections wants 20,000 square feet carved out of Macy’s for office space, leaving 100,000 square feet for Belk if the department store wants to open there. That seems easy enough. Good luck figuring out how to carve that space out if that happens.
Also, it is a coincidence that PREIT purchased the Macy’s space in April and now this brochure shows up a month later? Not really. In between, the International Council of Shopping Centers Retail Real Estate Convention (ReCon) was held in Las Vegas where stores, real estate developers and mall owners tried to make some deals.
Plenty of intrigue remains.
That brochure detailing that a store could lease half of Sears has disappeared from KLNB Retail’s website. However, Seritage’s quarterly reports show it still has rights to recapture half, but has not announced any plans for that space. The initial reports was that Sears wanted to test a smaller format. We haven’t seen that happen yet in Hagerstown.
Nothing has been filed under land records showing a sell or otherwise for Seritage in Hagerstown since it bought the Sears building.
Earlier this year, PREIT announced it would recapture three Sears locations and simultaneously announced retailers to replace those spaces. Hagerstown wasn’t one of those. Likely, because that Sears is not owned by PREIT. It’s owned by Seritage, who is leasing space back to Sears. That’s the company who found and brought BJ’s Brewhouse to the former Sears Auto Center. Seritage’s latest filing shows that BJ’s should be coming in the fourth quarter of this year.
The Baltimore Sun reported on April 1 that there wasn’t any new information on the Hagerstown Sears space. (However, that report overlooked the company’s quarterly report that showed the Cockeysville Sears will be partially replaced by a HomeGoods plus junior tenants and restaurants with most work done by the second quarter of 2018. The Bowie Sears Auto Center will also get a BJ’s Brewhouse.)
Here’s another issue for Belk: TownMall in Westminster. Belk only has two Maryland stores—the other in California, Md. TownMall was put into receivership, according to the Carroll County Times. That means a bank is in control of the mall, not a professional mall management company like PREIT, Simon, Westfield or Taubman. The court-appointed receiver, The Woodmont Co., is there to just keep things going until everything is settled. Woodmont’s website says it’s a receiver for 23 properties.
I’ve seen the after effects of malls placed in receivership and it’s not pretty. Some anchors and tenants have out clauses that can allow them to leave penalty free if certain actions happen (receivership, loss of X number of other anchors or if leasing falls below a certain percentage). Still, a store could close regardless of any penalty. If receivership drags on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Belk decides to close in Westminster if sales decline from a drop in foot traffic at the mall if other stores leave.
In fairness, while a store like Dillard’s left DeSoto Square mall in Bradenton, Fla., Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s stayed on through ownership changes and when the mall lost several national retailers. Macy’s would later close because a new store opened at The Mall at University Town Center. Closer to home, it’s a similar story at the Chambersburg Mall in Pennsylvania where certain anchors are able to hold on while the rest of the mall looks ghostly.
Belk, another large department store that anchors TownMall, is similarly well situated, according to Andy Izquierdo, vice president of communications and community relations for Belk Inc.
“The Belk store in the TownMall of Westminster is doing well, so it is business as usual,” he said. “We have no plans to exit the Westminster market.”
No retailer or spokesman will say anything that could hurt sales and nobody announces closures until they actually close or legally have to announce a layoff. Still, I’d have to believe that store should do well regardless of what happens with the in-line tenants.
No building permits are on record for the Hagerstown Belk, yet. Stay tuned.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — The owner of the Valley Mall outside of Hagerstown, Md., has purchased the former Macy’s building.
A landholding company for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust called PR Valley Anchor M- Limited Partnership, bought the shuttered Macy’s building attached to the Valley Mall for $2.5 million on April 7, according to a deed filed in Washington County.
The building was originally a Hecht’s department store that opened in 1999. Hecht’s was a Baltimore born retailer later owned by May Department Stores. Hecht’s and May Department Stores was acquired by Macy’s parent Federated Department Stores in 2005. The following year, Macy’s replaced Hecht’s name on its buildings, as it did with many other department stores it acquired.
The move gives the mall operator direct control over what goes into that space by being the sole owner. Sometimes malls can have messy relationships with shuttered anchors, with the anchors preferring to sell and market the property themselves to recapture some profit. That could cause a multi-year vacancy.
In March, the Washington County Board of Elections received approval from the Washington County Commissioners for a 20,000 square-foot space in the 120,000-square-foot building, according to a Herald-Mail report. That also shows that the former Macy’s will likely be carved out into multiple spaces for stores, offices and other uses.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Trendy full-figure clothing store Torrid and car repair shop NTB have both filed building permits for new stores at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Md.
Torrid’s permit shows the store expects to have 10 employees and will go into the former CJ Banks space in the JC Penney wing. CJ Banks transformed into a Christopher and Banks a few doors down last year.
An opening date has not been announced. The store’s careers website shows Torrid is accepting applications for a manager, a full-time assistant manager, a part-time assistant manager and store associates.
Also, NTB has filed a site plan for a location along Valley Mall Road and Massey Boulevard for a spot beside Chuck-E-Cheese and Burger King.
NTB, formerly known as National Tire and Battery, helps replace the shuttered Sears Auto Center where a BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse will be built. Job openings have not been posted for the Hagerstown location.
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.
WASHINGTON 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.