Merritt Park Shopping Center renovations continue
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 12:00

Plan includes redesign of parking lot

by Nicole Rodman

    Since taking over the lease for the Merritt Park Shopping Center on Merritt Boulevard in September 2011, the Regional Management property management firm has made some sweeping changes to the complex.
    Following the closure or relocation of many of the stores in the center, extensive renovations have taken place.
    Last February, the center’s former Citgo gas station on Searles Road and Holabird Avenue and the former Firestone building on Merritt Boulevard were demolished.
    While demolition is now complete, work on the center has been ongoing.
    Additional renovations have included a new roof and windows for the old Penn Fruit building and new storefronts, canopies and parapet walls.
    The pace of the work, however, has left some residents concerned about progress at the largely-vacant shopping center.

However, as Regional Management vice president Peter Groce noted in a phone interview with The Eagle last week, the work at Merritt Park Shopping Center is still in progress.
    “We’ve been continuing to work up at the shopping center,” Groce explained.
    As he noted, work is currently underway to expand sidewalks and add landscaping boxes in front of the Merritt Sub Shop, Cricket and Everspring stores.
    The next phase of work will include a large-scale renovation of the parking lot.
    According to Groce, work will include a redesign of driveways and the addition of landscaped islands designed to break up what is now a large expanse of pavement.
    As Groce noted, these changes will “make [the center] more attractive.”
    Though the renovations are planned, Regional Management must wait for approval to do the extensive work needed to complete parking lot renovations.
    While Groce was unable to provide a timeline for when approval might come through, he was hopeful that work will begin by the end of the year.
    As for which tenants may someday occupy the shopping center, Groce noted that the firm is taking its time to find the right occupants.
    “We want to make sure we get that right,” he explained, adding, “We’re not rushing. We want to do it in a thoughtful way.
    Currently, Regional Management is working with a retail expert to figure out the best mix of merchants to fill the center.
    While plans for new tenants are still being worked out, one current tenant will be relocating.
    The Rite Aid will be moving from their location within the shopping center strip to a standalone store to be built on the site of the old Citgo on Searles Road and Holabird Avenue.
    While Groce noted that the construction of the new Rite Aid will occur once final approval is received, he had no information on when construction would begin.
    The rest of the tenants currently in the shopping center will stay where they are.
    As for the potential sale of the North Point Government Center site to a retail developer, Groce did not offer comment on the situation.
    Rather, he explained, Regional Management is “just focused on our project and moving forward on our project.”