Friday, March 23, 2012
The Rotunda: Reviving Redevelopment
Although Giant's closure will stall redevelopment as property owners scramble to find a replacement Grocer, I think Giant's departure is beneficial long term. With the new Waverly Giant on 33rd St. just east of Greenmount, and the Rotunda Giant being so large, I don't think both stores could compete with each other. With the Giant moving to the old Superfresh in Hampden on 40th St., I think that small distance move will define two distinct Markets for each store. Hampden and Medfield Residents didn't appear to be too keen on Fresh & Green's (now occupying Superfresh) high prices and are very happy to see Giant taking over their space.
I'm afraid that in the short term that existing Retailers like Casa Mia, the only eatery left in the food court has a bleak future. Since redevelopment won't occur for a couple of years and with the Giant closing, sales have already been dipping and with a vacant Giant they will only continue their downward trend. I can only hope that they can survive long enough for redevelopment so that they can enjoy the benefits. According to the Rotunda's owners there are small Retailers who are interested in leasing space in the redeveloped center but of course that's a ways away.
Now as far as attracting a new Grocer to the Rotunda the obvious candidate has said no; Trader Joes. Given that the Rotunda's owners want a small "boutique Grocer" like Trader Joes it makes their choices in selecting a replacement a great deal harder. Given that the Bloom chain has gone out of business that adds another potential possibility that is no longer. The Fresh Market has "not made an announcement" which is better than a flat no that Trader Joes has given the Rotunda.
When selecting a Boutique Grocer like Trader Joes or the Fresh Market one can stumble upon independent or less known chains of the type. In Columbia's Wilde Lake Village Center we have David's Natural Market an independent Organic Market like Trader Joes that started out in a tiny space but has expanded so many times that it is now the size of your typical Trader Joes. In Clarskville and Olney we have Roots Organic Market, another Market that fits the bill of Boutique Grocer. Finally we have MOMs (My Organic Market) a chain that may not be as upscale as Trader Joes but size wise and selection wise it would be a good fit for the Rotunda.
Redevelopment for the Rotunda has been in and out of the news so much that until Giant announced it was pulling out of the Mall that I figured redevelopment prospects had died. Luckily the owners have found the sense of energy that was lacking and it appears redevelopment has revived. Now lets breath some life into this relic.