While the plans for a Remington Wal-Mart were getting a Bronx cheer from residents this week, the new Canton Crossing shopping center in another part of town was getting star treatment.
The big-box retail coming to Southeast Baltimore – a Target anchoring a pleasantly landscaped plaza featuring a slew of national chain stores – drew raves from the city’s shopper-in-chief yesterday at a late afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I love DSW! I am a registered card-carrying shoe shopper,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, standing solidly on her signature shiny, black, three-inch high pumps.
Speaking to a group of local and state officials, business leaders, community members and reporters (as well as a few casual shoppers who happened to wander over), Rawlings-Blake was the featured speaker at the ribbon-cutting for the $105 million retail center on Boston Street.
She noted that in addition to the discount shoe chain, she also loves Target (confiding that she hits the mega-retailer on a “more than weekly basis”) and Samos, the Greektown restaurant that will be opening a branch at Canton Crossing. Her daughter, she said, likes the fact that there’s a Five Below there. Her mother likes the Michael’s craft store.
High Heels, High Hopes
But beyond her appreciation of new retail, the mayor said, she was “through-the-roof excited” about much more.
“I know what this means to the community,” she said. “We have new investment that wants to come here because this development is here.”
Also speaking was Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who said the new Canton Crossing is “moving Baltimore in the right direction” with employment (they are saying the new restaurants and shops will create 1,000 permanent jobs) and by attracting new city residents.
City Councilman James B. Kraft was even more expansive on that theme of neighborhood uplift, saying the 326,000 square feet of new retail is “changing the face of all of southeast Baltimore. . . making it the place where everyone in the city wants to come and raise their families.”
Addressing the crowd, a student from Hampstead Hill Academy, Anthony Sanchez, said the new stores would help teachers to more easily purchase classroom supplies: “they won’t have to drive to a faraway Target.” Violinists from Hampstead Hill played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Master of ceremonies for the event was developer Mark Sapperstein, of 28 Walker Development. (He along with Doug Schmidt and Neil Tucker of Chesapeake Real Estate Group and David Strauss of Birchwood Capital Partners, formed the partnership that did the development.)
The biggest question he has been asked in the run-up to the project’s completion, he said, was whether Samos in the new location will take credit cards. Yes it will, he told them, as the crowd cheered.
The Red Robin mascot posed for pictures, while two of his peers – the Oriole bird and the Ravens’ Poe outside of Target – worked the other side of the parking lot.
Shopping After Work
As the invited guests sipped beer and wine, nibbled from plates of smoky Mission BBQ barbecue and snapped up goodie bags, two women who had been checking out the new shopping center came over to listen to the speeches and music by city school students.
“It’s wonderful!” said Joyce Quaye, looking around at the sprawling complex.
Quaye and Caroline Carroll, administrative staffers for the Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels, had been attending a meeting nearby and decided to check out the shopping center they had been hearing so much buzz about.
As it happens, the stores they particularly liked the looks of were all the ones the mayor had mentioned. Carroll, who lives in Baltimore County, and Brown, who lives in Northwest Baltimore, said that the new stores at Canton will be convenient for them nevertheless, because of where they work.
“Yeah, it’ll be a quick way to spend your money,” Carroll observed with a grin, as the two headed off to see if they could score some goodie bags.