The addition of four national retailers — Anthropologie, J. Crew, MAC Cosmetics and Lululemon Athletica — at Harbor East could solidify the Baltimore waterfront neighborhood as one of the region's top shopping destinations, local retail consultants and business owners said Wednesday.
"It makes downtown even more vibrant and attractive to high-quality, upscale retailers," said Mark Millman, chief executive officer of the retail executive hiring firm Millman Search Group in Owings Mills. "It's a major coup for Harbor East to attract high-quality, specialty retailers."
The four new retailers are expected to join a mix of apartments and condominiums, restaurants and locally owned boutiques in late summer, adding more than 20,000-square-feet of retail space along the Aliceanna Street corridor.
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Wednesday's announcement came as the owner of Harborplace & The Gallery shopping center at the Inner Harbor readies a new lineup of attractions and tenants to open in time for the summer tourist season.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! will take up two levels of the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace by June, while other new tenants include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., McCormick World of Flavors and Johnny Rockets restaurant.
Thomas H. Maddux, a principal with Towson-based KLNB Retail, said the continued development of Harbor East's retail business complements the attractions and shopping at the Inner Harbor, which draws tourists, convention traffic and daytime office workers.
"There is room for both," said Geoffrey L. Mackler, a vice president with H&R Retail, a commercial real estate firm that specializes in retail tenants.
The news of Harbor East's latest tenants was welcomed by others retailers, such as apparel stores South Moon Under and Urban Chic.
"We think it's great. We're excited," said Courtney Cannata, Urban Chic's head buyer. The lack of accessible and affordable parking may be an inconvenience, though, she said.
Chris Warren, a manager at South Moon Under, said the new stores will bring more traffic and consumers to the area. Besides young professionals who work at Harbor East and tourists, Warren said, shops like J. Crew and Anthropologie will bring more suburban customers from places like Baltimore County.
"It'll bring a different crowd and competition is always good," said Warren, adding that rumors had been swirling for a few months about new, big-name tenants joining the Harbor East retail community.
Anthropologie, which sells apparel and home decor, declared its intentions to open a store at the base of the Four Seasons Hotel when it submitted preliminary designs to city planners late last year. The retailer will be the biggest of the four new stores, occupying 9,581 square feet.
J. Crew will move into a 7,188-square-foot space at the Legg Mason Tower. The retailer, known for its preppy style, closed a downtown Baltimore store at Harborplace & The Gallery shopping center at the Inner Harbor in 2009.
At that time, the company said it was not looking for another location in the city. J. Crew could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Lululemon Athletica, an upscale yoga apparel shop, will open a 2,775-square-foot store next to White House Black Market on Aliceanna Street. The retailer currently has a small "showroom" store less than a mile away in Fells Point.
MAC Cosmetics will open at the former Benjamin Lovell Shoes store on Exeter Street, occupying 1,347 square feet.
"I think they make Baltimore a much more attractive place to live and work when we have these kinds of retailers so close by," said Laurie Schwartz, executive director of the Waterfront Partnership, a nonprofit that promotes the Inner Harbor. "People don't have to drive out to the suburbs."