Work continues on upgrades at shopping center
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 12:32

Merritt Park still looking for new tentants

by Ben Boehl

    While most motorists have been dealing with the road construction along Merritt Boulevard, work at one landmark on the side of the road continues, in the form of continuing upgrades at Merritt Park Shopping Center..
    Recently, Regional Management, the company running the 50-plus-year-old shopping center, has focused on parking lot renovations.
    Regional Management vice president Peter Grose said that the work is being done in sections so motorists can still visit merchants and the North Point Public Library.
    One section where work is expected to begin shortly is at the corner of Searles Road and Holabird Avenue.
    “We have taken down the old gas station and car wash, and we are going to build a stand alone Rite Aid,” Grose said.
    He added that Rite Aid has its building permits and he expects the project to start shortly. Grose said the new Rite Aid will be larger than its current inline location and estimated that the new building will be ready sometime during the summer.

According to Grose, the plan is to make Merritt Park a more attractive location with upgrades such as a redesign of driveways and the addition of landscaped islands, but he added that Regional Management wanted to keep some of the current structure of the original shopping center.
    He gave an example of saving the distinctive former Penn Fruit building by giving it a new roof and window upgrades.
    “We felt the structure was good and there was a unique architecture,” Grose said.
    There are rumors that Regional Management has been in talks with a grocery store as a potential tenant for that slot, but Grose had no comment about those talks. He only confirmed that Regional Management has yet to sign any new tenants.
    “We have been working diligently to find the next levels of tenants,”  Grose said.
    “We want to get that first domino to fall, and hopefully, that will bring in more tenants.”
    Grose added that he would like to see a restaurant that is not currently in the area locate at Merritt Park.
    “One area that we found unserved is a food source. We felt there is a demand for a formal sit-down place,” he said.
    Grose did not comment on the future of the nearby North Point Government Center, which the county has agreed to sell to a retail developer.
    With the pending development of that space and the many vacant storefronts along Merritt Boulevard, some question whether Regional Management can attract quality tenants to Merritt Park.
    Grose answered that Regional Management  has done research and it likes what it sees in Dundalk.
    “The employment base in Baltimore City is moving around east, and it is creating housing opportunities in Dundalk,”  Grose said. “We already see a solid, stable community, and these employment centers could lead to the development for housing opportunities.”
    John Ayres, president of the Norwood Holabird Community Association, said he has been working closely with Grose and Regional Management.
    He suggested to Grose the installation of a beacon such as a lighthouse that could draw motorists coming into Dundalk to the shopping center.
    “Merritt Park is at the end of the retail on Merritt Boulevard,” Ayres said. “[The retail strip] begins after you get off the Beltway. We need something that will attract people all the way down to Merritt Park.”
    Grose said he is looking for community input to find out any ideas to give the shopping center any distinctiveness.