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Kid-Friendly Face-Lift For St. Charles Center

As shopping and entertainment options in Waldorf increase, Simon Property Group Inc. is redesigning or renovating St. Charles Towne Center's entrances, interior corridors, bathrooms and food court, and adding a children's play area.
As shopping and entertainment options in Waldorf increase, Simon Property Group Inc. is redesigning or renovating St. Charles Towne Center's entrances, interior corridors, bathrooms and food court, and adding a children's play area. (Courtesy Of Simon Property Group Inc.)

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By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 15, 2007

St. Charles Towne Center will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation this year to upgrade its appearance and add features for children in an effort to recast Southern Maryland's only major mall as a "family-friendly" place to shop.

The mall's entrances and interior corridors will be redesigned, its bathrooms and food court will be renovated and a soft play area for kids will be built, the mall's owner, Simon Property Group Inc., announced last week. Construction is expected to be finished by early 2008.

The redesign is geared to accommodate families with young children. Bathrooms will be larger and easier for people with strollers to access. In addition, carpeted soft seating areas will be added throughout the shopping center, mall spokeswoman Kristine Winternitz said.

"We're doing things to make it more family-friendly and easier for people with young children when they come to shop," Winternitz said. "We're having things more oriented toward little kids."

The mall opened in 1990 on Route 301 in St. Charles, the massive planned community in southern Waldorf. At 980,000 square feet and anchored by Macy's, Macy's Home Store, JCPenney, Sears, Kohls and Dick's Sporting Goods, St. Charles Towne Center is the only traditional enclosed regional mall in Southern Maryland.

Winternitz said the mall's age is beginning to show. "Ours is a nice mall, it's clean, it's well-maintained, but the colors are outdated-looking, so we're updating some of them," Winternitz said.

The mall's renovations come as several developers are planning to expand the retail and entertainment offerings in Waldorf, the population and commercial center of fast-growing Charles County.

The Waldorf Marketplace recently opened a new phase of its sprawling shopping center at Route 228 and Western Parkway. The new phase features a DSW shoe store, HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx.

One block away, the Festival at Waldorf shopping center will begin a renovation and expansion. The addition, to be called the Shops at Waldorf, is being billed as a "lifestyle center" featuring upscale entertainment venues, retail stores, restaurants and luxury boutiques.

In northern Waldorf, one of the region's largest developers is planning a $62 million retail and entertainment center designed as a main street featuring fine dining, office space, a hotel and upscale shopping.

The renovation of St. Charles Towne Center will help the mall compete with the "next generation" of retail in the area, said John Reardon, Charles's economic development director.

"I think it's very forward-thinking of them to make that move, and obviously we're pleased with it, especially when it has to do with family," Reardon said.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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