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Martin's plans new grocery on site of vacant Wal-Mart

April 28, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Martin's Food Markets is planning to have a bigger grocery store built on Wesel Boulevard on the site of the former Wal-Mart, according to a site plan submitted to the Hagerstown Planning Department.

Representatives of Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant Food Stores, which owns Martin's Food Markets, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

A man at the Wesel Boulevard Martin's who said he was in charge Tuesday night said he did not have information about the project. He could not say if the current store would close simultaneously with the opening of the new one.

The man said he could not say how big the current store is, but Hagerstown Development Planner/Zoning Administrator Stephen R. Bockmiller said the grocery store was approximately 45,000 square feet.

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The site plan calls for demolishing the 114,746-square-foot former Wal-Mart building to construct a 70,236-square-foot new Martin's Food Market.

Of that, 65,470 square feet would be for the first floor, the site plan states. Offices probably would be on the second floor, Bockmiller said.

Three smaller storefronts would be built between the grocery store and Operman's Dollar Mart to keep the strip shopping center continuous, according to the site plan and Bockmiller.

The site plan also shows a four-island gasoline sales area in the east corner of the new grocery store's parking lot.

The plan allows for 10,000 square feet for future expansion for the grocery store.

The Hagerstown Planning Commission is expected to vote tonight on whether to approve the site plan, Bockmiller said. The developer is asking the city to waive requirements for the forest conservation law, which requires developers to plant trees or make a payment in lieu of planting trees, he said.

The planning commission is meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

The site plan was submitted on March 29, but has been revised since then, city planning officials said.

A year ago, a Giant Food spokesman said company officials were considering having Martin's Food Market leave Valley Park Commons on Wesel Boulevard. That store's business had dropped initially after that Wal-Mart closed, but had been growing back steadily, the spokesman said.

Martin's leases the store at Valley Park Commons from its parent company, Royal Ahold, the Giant Food spokesman said at the time.

Martin's would lease space for the new grocery store too, Bockmiller said.

Bockmiller said Martin's gained site plan approval to build a new grocery store along Railway Lane earlier this year, but changed its plans when the former Wal-Mart building became available.

Wal-Mart vacated the 1650 Wesel Blvd. store in the late spring of 2000. Wal-Mart Realty Co. had discussed other possible developments of the space, city and Wal-Mart officials have said in the past.

Wal-Mart Realty sold the property to Hagerstown Real Estate LLC for $2.3 million in February, according to Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation records. The mailing address for the owner was in care of Paragon Management Group LLC in Southport, Conn.

The site plan submitted by J. Michael Brill & Associates Inc. in Mechanicsburg, Pa., states the equitable owner and developer of the project is Hagerstown Plaza LLC in Atlanta.

Neither the developer nor consulting engineers could be reached for comment Tuesday.

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