Several more businesses close in Rockville Town Square
Others expected to open in coming weeks; officials say turnover is normal
While seven businesses have left Rockville Town Square since it opened nearly two years ago, city officials and some merchants say they remain optimistic about the shopping center's fate.
Greystone Grill and Hollywood Tans have shuttered in recent weeks, said Marylou Berg, a spokeswoman for the city.
Love Your Eyes and a Cingular phone store also have closed in recent months.
Buffalo Wild Wings, which also has locations in Westminster, White Marsh, Hagerstown and College Park, will take Greystone Grill's spot and open in the fall, said Janelle Stevenson, a spokeswoman for Federal Realty Investment Trust, which manages the retail component of Town Square.
Stevenson could not be reached for further comment on the other businesses in Town Square.
Two businesses have opened to fill some of the vacated spaces and a recent walk through Town Square showed that at least one more business seems to be opening in addition to Buffalo Wild Wings.
A sign on the door of the site formerly occupied by Cingular said Sands Artwork Gallery would be opening there. Attempts to find information on the business were unsuccessful.
A sign on the door of the storefront once occupied by Hollywood Tans instructs patrons to call the corporate office or check the Web site.
A leasing sign is posted on the site formerly occupied by Love Your Eyes, located on Maryland Avenue.
Workers took down the Greystone Grill lettering last week.
Stephen Schadler, general manager of Austin Grill and a spokesman for the Rockville Town Square Merchants Association, said he was sorry that Greystone, across from his restaurant, left the shopping center.
"It's always sad to see a neighbor go," he said. "We had a very good relationship with Greystone Grill."
While it is unfortunate that Town Square has lost merchants, Schadler said, it is not unusual and Rockville is not immune from the recession.
"When you have a development like Town Square, you put in a mix of retail and restaurants that you think will be successful; however, you're never going to get that perfect the first time around," he said. "There's always going to be those businesses even in the best of economic times that are going to struggle and not make it one way or another. The hope is you bring in new merchants so that you can continue trying to get that right mix and give consumers what they're demanding."
Schadler said Town Square continues to do good business and Federal Realty Investment Trust and the city have been helpful by planning events that draw people to the shopping center.
"I think all that is keeping Rockville Town Square alive and vibrant," he said.
The City Council in April decreased the fine for parking violations in the Town Square garages by 70 percent and will offer 12 days of free parking to Rockville residents in an effort to draw people to the shopping center. The council also postponed the expansion of paid parking hours on weeknights and Saturdays until Oct. 5.
The postponement came at the urging of Town Square merchants such as Schadler and the Rockville Chamber of Commerce. The merchants have argued that paid parking in Town Square garages has decreased foot traffic at the shopping center.
Mayor Susan R. Hoffmann said she does not find the number of stores closing in the shopping center alarming.
"Based on what I do know about the cycle of retail, this is a fairly common — two years in — shakeout that occurs even in the best of times that there are some businesses that do go out of business and are replaced by others," she said. "So that's not to say this doesn't get our attention, but I think that it wouldn't be raised to the level of a concern at this point because, as I said, this is sort of the normal turnover. We did check with the shopping center industry and they confirmed that two-year changeover."
Berg and Hoffmann said they anticipate more people will be drawn to the shopping center as the weather continues to warm up.
"I'm expecting it's going to be pretty crowded this summer," Berg said.