Berman Enterprises wants an anchor grocer to replace the shuttered Safeway at its struggling Bowie Marketplace. Bowie officials want to see the roughly 20-acre site along Annapolis Road redeveloped.
Whether either comes to pass remains to be seen.
The Bowie City Council is encouraging Berman to remake the aging shopping center at 15505 Annapolis Road and has dangled the prospect of economic incentives to move the process along, as the Capital Gazette recently reported.
Berman Enterprises Partner Brian Berman told me the company has reached out to a number of potential grocers to anchor a redeveloped center at the site. With one in particular, which he declined to identify, other merchants have also said they might want in. But if Rockville-based Berman can’t get a taker for between 45,000 and 65,000 square feet, it will instead pursue smaller tenants to fill some of the 240,000-square-foot center’s existing space.
“The city approached us and said we really want you to make this a priority on your development list,” Berman told me Monday. “If by the end of the summer we really can’t find an anchor, we’ll go back to plan A,” which is to pursue smaller retail leases.
For many years, Bowie Marketplace and Free State Mall, on the other side of Annapolis Road, served as the retail hub for the city, located in Prince George’s County right next to the Anne Arundel County line. Between the two there were anchor department stores, restaurants, smaller retailers, a grocery store, even a movie theater for a time. The nearby Bowie Town Center has made the two standbys less of a shopping destination for consumers.
With an anchor tenant in place, Berman would consider a handful of different redevelopment options. The most likely scenario calls for a 150,000-square-foot, grocer-anchored center and a second mixed-use project with office or, preferably residential, with additional pad sites.
Berman said the property had not previously been high up in the company’s development pipeline. That includes building a new headquarters for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development in New Carrollton, a more high-profile project. He’s encouraged, however, by the enthusiasm of city officials and shares their vision for Bowie Marketplace.
Berman is marketing the site through KNLB, and Berman said there has been plenty of interest. He declined to identify prospective grocery anchors but did offer this: None has committed yet to even a letter of intent.
Daniel J. Sernovitz