REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA
Reisterstown Road and Patterson Avenue
Baltimore (City), Maryland

In October 1958, New York City's Food Fair Properties announced plans for a prospective Baltimore shopping center. The complex was to be built on a 55 acre site, located 6 miles northwest of the center city. The land parcel was within the corporate limits of the "Independent City" of Baltimore.

REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA was designed by the New York City firms Abbot, Merkt & Company and Raymond Loewy & Associates. Its first operational store, a 2-level (185,000 square foot), Baltimore-based Hecht Company, opened for business in October 1961. The second anchor, a 3-level (229,900 square foot), Baltimore-based Stewart & Company, made its debut in January 1962.

The 20 million dollar open-air mall was officially dedicated March 14, 1962. Encompassing 675,000 leasable square feet, REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA opened as the largest shopping center in Greater Baltimore. It eventually housed fifty stores and services.

Among these were Bond Clothes, Read's Drug an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and Food Fair grocery. The Trans-Lux Corporation Reisterstown Plaza Theatre was added to the rear of the mall. The single-screen venue showed its first feature on June 30 1965.

"THE PLAZA" had several regional-class competitors in its vicinity, such as MONDAWMIN CENTER (1956) {3.5 miles southeast, in Baltimore City}, WESTVIEW CENTER (1958) {4.7 miles southwest, in Baltimore County} and TOWSON ["tow" rhymes with "cow"] "PLAZA (1959) {6.3 miles northeast, in Baltimore County}.

There were also EUDOWOOD PLAZA (1962) {7 miles northeast, in Baltimore County}, SECURITY SQUARE CENTER (1963 & 1972) {3.6 miles southwest, in Baltimore County} and -eventually- HUNT VALLEY MALL (1981) {10 miles northeast, in Baltimore County} and OWINGS MILLS TOWN CENTER (1986-2013) {5.3 miles northwest, in Baltimore County}.

REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA was given an enclosing renovation in 1975-1976. At this time, Baltimore's Hochschild-Kohn chain opened a boutique-type store. This was shuttered in late 1984. The mall's original anchors operated under their original nameplates until the mid-1980s. Stewart's became the first to close, in January 1983. Hecht's followed, in September 1986.

The Stewart's space was divided. Its (88,000 square foot) ground level became a Connecticut-based Caldor discount mart. The two upper floors were sectioned into leased office spaces, which were accessed from a newly-built elevator structure added to the northern side of the building in 1986. Caldor pulled out of the mall in 1987 and was replaced by a Massachusetts-based Zayre soon after. This store was converted into a Connecticut-based Ames in 1988 and closed in April 1993.

On the opposite end of the mall, Hecht's had downsized into its ground level in 1983, with the (77,200 square foot) lower level being configured as a Landover, Maryland-based Hechinger home improvement warehouse.

After Hecht's was shuttered, in late 1986, the majority of the ground level became a (60,000 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory. The Food Fair grocery had morphed into a Pantry Pride in 1970 and a Super Super Food in August 1981.

Rail rapid transit service came to the mall via the Baltimore Metro's 7.6 route mile Charles Center-to-Reisterstown Plaza starter line, which inaugurated revenue service on November 21, 1983.

The Maryland-based Continental Realty Company had acquired REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA in March 1980. By November 1994, the shopping center was in dire straits. Its proprietor was bankrupt, with the lending agent trying to seize the property. Problems were ironed out, with 12 million dollars soon being invested in a mall-wide renovation.

Following the 1993 departure of Ames, the ground level of the old Stewart's space was -once again- leased to Caldor. This store would close as the chain folded, in the spring of 1999. West Hempstead, New York's National Wholesale Liquidators opened there in May 2000. Hechinger, on the south end of THE PLAZA, shut down late in 1999.

The old Trans-Lux movie house had been expanded into the Loews Reisterstown Plaza 5-Star Theatre in 1985. By the 21st century, it was operating as the Reisterstown Premier Cinema 7. This complex was run in conjunction with another in-mall venue, the Reisterstown Twin.

The 7-screen venue was shuttered in June 2000 and torn down. A 1-level (115,200 square foot) Home Depot opened on its spot November 21, 2002.

Ownership of the shopping facility changed in late 2002, with Baltimore's Cordish Company taking the helm. The center was in the midst of a 3-year-long renovation, which had got underway in late 2001.

A small Food Court, built in existing mall space, debuted in November 2002. Marshalls dedicated a (28,500 square foot) store in 2003. The exterior of REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA was also given an upgrade. Lastly, retail area to the west of Marshalls was gutted, with a 1-level (63,700 square foot) Giant Foods supermarket constructed. It welcomed its first shoppers in July 2004.

In August 2004, the Cordish Company entered into a joint ownership venture with the Oak Brook, Illinois-based Inland American Retail Trust. By this time, the vacant Hechinger store (in the old Hecht's building) had been divided between ten tenants.

The most recent changes at THE PLAZA involve the National Wholesale Liquidators space. The store was shuttered in December 2008. A New York City-based Shoppers World assumed 53,000 square feet, with the remaining 35,000 opening, as a Columbus, Ohio-based Big Lots, on November 11, 2011.

Sources:

The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Afro-American
"Reisterstown Road Plaza" article on Wikipedia
www.cinematreasures.org
www.foodarama.com
www.inlandamerican.com


BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS:

From the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection / Repository: United States Library Of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. / Taken by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc. / Samuel Herman, March 1962 / Raymond Loewy - Client / Photographs are in the public domain: no known restrictions on publication /
www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html