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Valley Mall begins $43 million expansion

July 17, 1998

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

HALFWAY - The owners of the Valley Mall on Thursday announced that work has begun on a $43 million expansion that will include a Hecht's store, a 16-theater multiplex and a food court.

The work is expected to be completed around Sept. 1, 1999.

The southwest end of the mall will be barricaded off later this year as workers begin building the new wing, said Christine A. Menna, spokeswoman for Crown American Realty Trust, of Johnstown, Pa.

The three-screen Carmike Cinemas theater will close on Aug. 31 to make way for an eight-bay food court, officials said. The food court will include stalls with nationally-known names to be announced later, said Mark Pasquerilla, Crown American's president.

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Some of the mall's existing tenants might be relocated temporarily within the mall until the new wing is open, Menna said.

The $43 million project includes $21 million from Crown American, $14 million from Hecht's and $8 million from R/C Theatres, Pasquerilla said during a public presentation at the mall on Thursday morning.

The work will provide 250 construction jobs next year. When the wing is open, it will create 500 new full- and part-time jobs and $9.9 million in annual wages, Pasquerilla said.

The expansion also will generate $3.2 million in taxes a year, he said.

Some of the stores with which Crown American expects to sign leases are Old Navy, The Gap, Disney Store, Foot Action, Lady Footlocker, Kings Jeweler and Northern Reflections, which sells women's sweaters.

Pasquerilla said 90 percent of the new space is spoken for, and leases are expected to be finalized shortly before the new stores open.

Crown American bought the mall last year, which opened in 1974, for just over $31 million.

"You can say that in the last seven months they've had more excitement here than they've had in the past seven years," Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

The soon-to-open Prime Outlets at Hagerstown and planned Centre at Hagerstown shopping centers don't concern Pasquerilla because the mall will have the multiplex and Hecht's, he said.

The mall could benefit from the outlets because they will attract tourists, he said.

Pasquerilla said the planned multiplex is expected to attract 12,000 customers a week.

"We're proud to be bringing to Hagerstown a theater that has all the amenities that cutting-edge theaters have to offer," said David Phillips, executive vice president of R/C Theatres, which is based in Reisterstown, Md.

The theaters will have stadium seating, digital stereo, rocking chair seats, cupholders and gourmet food service, including coffee and freshly baked cookies.

A 34,000-square-foot expansion at J.C. Penney and a 30,000-square foot expansion at The Bon-Ton are being negotiated, Pasquerilla said. It would make sense for those expansions to be done while the new wing is being built.

Crown American's $21 million share of the project includes money for road improvements near the mall, although the specific amount hasn't been determined yet, said Bob Arch, the county's planner.

Planned road improvements include widening the intersection of Massey Boulevard, Wesel Boulevard and Halfway Boulevard, expanding the Halfway Boulevard-Interstate 81 interchange, relocating Cole Road along the mall and connecting Massey Boulevard to Virginia Avenue, county officials said.

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