In early 2003, Arthur Turner, president of the Towns of Kettering Homeowners Association, sent a survey to community leaders and residents near the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo. He asked them what they wanted to see in the new mall.
He got about 1,200 responses. Among the stores often mentioned were DSW Shoe Warehouse, a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based Retail Ventures Inc., Ann Taylor and Magic Johnson Theatres.
DSW is set to open tomorrow. Ann Taylor Loft opened two weeks ago, and a Magic Johnson movie theater is scheduled to open in October, when the mall is expected to be filled, with 70 retail and dining options, according to mall property manager Scooter Monroe.
Seven months after its November opening, the outdoor town center-style shopping mall on the site of the former USAirways Arena has about 20 restaurants and 40 retailers. Circuit City had a grand opening last week. The Sports Authority and Office Depot are set to open soon. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar will begin construction next week, and the mall completed a leasing agreement last week with the Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken & Waffles restaurant, Monroe said.
Meanwhile the Classic Woman, a minority-owned establishment that specializes in upscale ladies' designer fashion and accessories, will open a store in July. Sandra Yates, the owner, already has a store in the Capitol Heights area.
Turner said the association is pleased with the effort made by Cordish Co. of Baltimore, the developer of the 510,000-square-foot shopping center, to bring in upscale retailers as well as locally and minority-owned businesses, something residents wanted.
"We feel that they have done a good job of delivering," Turner said. "We've been very pleased."
There have been some complaints. Norma Lindsay, who lives in Perrywood, often goes to the Boulevard, a 15-minute drive away, to dine at places such as the Red Star Tavern but rarely shops at the mall because it lacks a big department store. She said the mall needs a Lord & Taylor or a Macy's. For most of her shopping, she said, she has to trek to the Bowie Town Center, which has a Hecht's department store. Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Hecht's and others such as Neiman Marcus and Sak's Fifth Avenue were on the list that Turner submitted to Cordish.
Monroe said Cordish may try to lure a big department store in the future. "That's something that we are considering," he said. "Right now, we haven't pursued that route. It's definitely something that we are thinking about."
Other residents, however, are not as concerned about having a big department store. Chuck Renninger, president of the Largo Civic Association, said that the Boulevard was never supposed to be a major department store center, but rather a place with upscale specialty shops. He said that some of the places -- such as Borders bookstore and some of the restaurants -- hit the mark, but that others are "medium-grade stores."
Circuit City Stores Inc. officials said they were attracted to the Boulevard because of the location and space. "We like to be in power centers where there's a lot of other retailers," said Bill Cimino, the company spokesman. The new store boasts 34,000 square feet to better display products on the sales floor, more wide open than the old Circuit City store at nearby Landover Mall.
"Consumers like convenience, especially if they're going to hit four or five different stores on the same trip," Cimino said. Circuit City, he said, is in a convenient location.
"The residents are responding extremely well," said Angela Alsobrooks, executive director of the Prince George's County Revenue Authority, "and are supporting the restaurants and businesses that are there, primarily the restaurants."
Monroe said that Golden Corral, a buffet-style eatery, and fast-food chain Chik-fil-A at the Boulevard are doing particularly well among the restaurants at the Boulevard.