Barnes Opens as Shopping’s “Missing Link”

TOWSON TIMES

The long-awaited link clanked into place when Barnes & Noble opened a superstore in Towson Circle Tuesday night.

The two-level 30,000 square foot store, which is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., is the first step in transforming the long-vacant Hutzler’s department store into a retail link between the Towson Town Center mall to the north and the old retail district to the south.

It provides a reason for shoppers to move between the two areas and it is expected to bring added prosperity to both, says Paul Schwab, president of the Towson Business Association.

And it is just another reason to come to Towson.

"We all have looked forward to having the building re-opened," Schwab says. "It is a much better looking building now and it should attract more people."

Of course, Barnes & Noble hopes people will linger. Store manager Sylvia Newsome cites "a relaxed and welcoming environment" and a calendar of ongoing events, including poetry readings, book discussion groups, author signings and children’s story-telling hours.

The store, one of 500 Barnes & Noble bookstores and 509 B. Dalton bookstores operated by Barnes & Noble Inc., carries more than 175,000 different book titles.

Of these, 125,000 have been "carefully selected to reflect the local lifestyles and interests of Towson customers," says a prepared release.

The children’s department alone features 15,000 titles, including all Newbery and Caldecott award winners.

The store’s music department offers more than 26,000 CD and cassette titles, with comprehensive selections in classical music, jazz, opera and blues. Listening stations enable customers to preview selected CDs and an electronic catalog reveals the locations of CDs in the store.

The store also offers 2,000 video titles with a focus on documentaries, foreign films and American Film institute classic films.

In addition, the Barnes & Noble cafe will serve Starbucks coffee and specialty drinks, as well as full-leaf teas of the Republic of Tea in a classic bistro setting. Cold drinks, gourmet soups and baked items also will be available.

The opening of the first retail tenant in the building is welcome relief for Towson Councilman Doug Riley.

The successful transformation of the vacant building into a retail center was "one of the things that I was afraid might not be done before I left office." says Riley, who is retiring from the council next month.

"It’s been a long time coming and I am absolutely delighted with David Rhodes, Heritage Properties and the Cordish Co. for making it possible and with Barnes & Noble for seeing the great retail potential of that location."

Riley credited the county for "bending over backwards" to smooth the way for the complicated project, which was vital to the revitalization of Towson. "I was glad to be a part of it," he says.

If Riley is relieved, David Rhodes is "really excited" about the Barnes property began for the $20 million redevelopment project. Heritage and the Cordish Co. are joint partners.

"Towson’s best corner has something to be proud of again." says Rhodes. "This has been a great transformation. It’s visually such a strong statement from a real negative to positive on that corner. It’s a wonderful presence on the Roundabout. "I’m very proud of it."

By spring of next year, Fitness Warehouse will be open and selling high quality fitness equipment in the building and Pier I will be open having moved from its current location on Luskin’s Hill off Cromwell Bridge Road.

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