Hecht's opened its largest and most luxurious department store yesterday in the Baltimore area, continuing a series of aggressive expansion moves by the May Department Stores division.

The newest link in the Hecht's chain is just north of Baltimore in Towson, a suburb described by Hecht's President Irwin Zazulia as "the Chevy Chase of Baltimore."

Zazulia said the three-story marble store with glass brick skylights and "an art deco-style central core" will become the "flagship store" for Hecht's in Baltimore. The new unit is the latest step in Hecht's effort to reposition itself from the middle of the Baltimore department store market to the top, Hecht's executives said.

The Towson store is No. 23 in the Hecht's chain, which is the biggest department store group in the combined Baltimore-Washington market.

Zazulia and Chairman Edgar Mangiafico said Hecht's is continuing to increase its share of the Baltimore department store business, despite the opening of a very successful store north of Baltimore by Bambergers, a division of Macy's, and expansion in the market by Woodward & Lothrop, Hecht's chief rival. Remodeling of Hecht's downtown Baltimore store will be completed this fall, Mangiafico added, and five other new stores are being planned:

The store in the Parkington shopping center in Arlington will be totally remodeled as part of a renovation of that center, which is owned by another subsidiary of St. Louis-based May.

Hecht's is pushing plans for a new downtown Washington headquarters store in the urban renewal area atop the Metro Center subway complex, despite delays in development of that property.

Hecht's had planned to put its new store in the Metro Center mixed-use complex planned by the Oliver T. Carr Co. After a dispute with Carr over the price of the Metro Center site, the city's Redevelopment Land Agency recently said it would take the property away from Carr and offer it to other developers.