Odenton residents yearning for a new grocery store and other retail and restaurants in town now have some data to back up their desires.
A new analysis of retail in the Odenton Town Center said the area has the population and demographics to support at least 400,000 more square feet of retail, including two new supermarkets.
A study commissioned by the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. said Odenton is one of the top areas in the county for potential retail growth, and officials said they plan to aggressively market the area both regionally and nationally.
“We will continue to be very aggressive in marketing the county and very specifically in marketing Odenton, because we know this is the best opportunity for us in terms of new growth,” said AAEDC Executive Vice President Mary Burkholder. “There’s a lot of new development and redevelopment opportunities here.”
The AAEDC commissioned the study last year as part of ongoing efforts to move along the development of the 1,600-acre Odenton Town Center.
The study from Valbridge Property Advisors said there is currently 941,000 square feet of retail in the Odenton Town Center, but that the area could support 1.3 million square feet right now and 1.5 million square feet by 2017.
Those projections come despite massive amounts of new retail development at the Waugh Chapel shopping centers in Gambrills, as well as the shopping areas near Arundel Mills and other planned projects in the county.
"We judge that Odenton Town Center offers a strong local market to retailers today—and that its market logic will only improve in the mid-term future with continuing household and employment growth," the study said.
Burkholder said AAEDC officials could tout the study at the massive International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas next year.
Support for Supermarkets, Restaurants
Ever since the closure of the Superfresh store in 2011, Odenton residents have wondered when they’ll be getting a new supermarket. Officials said the town currently could support two new markets comprising 240,000 square feet.
“Since existing supermarkets in the trade area (Food Lion and Weis) comprise less than 80,000 [square feet] of space combined, we estimate that there is actually room for at least two new supermarkets at this time,” the study said.
The study authors said local residents spent $146.7 million on food at home in 2012, and that total could rise to $171 million by 2017.
Burkholder said the AAEDC is actively working to market the former Superfresh site, which could house a larger grocery store when combined with the space left when CVS closed.
"There are a couple of appropriate sites we'd like to show people," Burkholder said. "We think that's something that is going to come to fruition."
The study also said that Odenton could support an additional 50,000 square feet of restaurant space, growing to a total of 147,000 square feet by 2017.
The retail analysis said there are also opportunities for new day care centers, medical facilities and service-oriented retail.
Message To Developers?
The study of Odenton comes after several developers reported that they had trouble finding retailers to fill space as part of requirements in the Odenton Town Center Master Plan. Developers of apartment and townhouse projects, for instance, have requested modifications to allow for less retail on site.
Claire Louder, the chairman and CEO of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said the study does not necessarily mean those developers were wrong about Odenton’s retail market. She said there are still certain parts of town where retail won’t work well, but plenty of others that will.
“I think it is very location-based,” she said. “We need to look at the master plan with an eye for where retail makes the most sense.”
Focus Near the Train Station
Economic development officials said they are placing their attention on a massive housing and retail project near the Odenton MARC Station. Odenton Town Square—also known as the TOD—would serve as a centerpiece to the broader development in town.
In recent years, the project has been held up due to financing issues and questions about how to fund structured parking at the site. But officials said they hope to have at least a basic deal in place by early next year to move the project forward. That plan could involve charging a fee to park at the MARC station for the first time, officials said.
Authors of the retail study said that structured parking would add cost to developers but will be needed to satisfy the vision of the town center.
“OTC’s appeal to decision-makers in the short-term will be improved with evidence of continuing new construction—and, if possible, new structured parking in the core area to support ground-level retail,” the study said.