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The Boulevard at the Capital Centre

Today’s Washington Post has a front page article about The Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.


This was suppose to be the shopping center in the area to take the place of Landover Mall. Landover Mall went downhill during the mid to late 80’s. Will the same thing happen to The Boulevard? The article mentions the loss of several anchor stores (two of the stores have gone out of business), crime and the types of stores that remain at the shopping center.

Violence, Vacancies Trouble Md. Mall
Boulevard Struggles With Image Issues

By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A01

The Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Landover was envisioned as a solidly middle-class, Main Street-style mall: a lure to help Prince George’s County keep its residents from fleeing to Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County and Northern Virginia to find anything more than T-shirts and tennis shoes.

The site used to rock a few nights each week as crowds flocked to the old Capital Centre to cheer on sports teams. And local leaders thought the wealthiest majority-black county in the nation deserved at least mid-range stores to go with the fancy neighborhoods nearby.

But six years later, amid the economic downturn, anchors such as Linens ‘n Things, Circuit City and Office Depot are shuttered. Many of the Boulevard’s retailers that remain sell T-shirts, jeans and cellphones, stores that resemble those found in run-down retail strips. Crime is a problem. Five people have been killed there in four years, the latest this month outside the Sideline, the restaurant owned by former Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington. Residents wanted what Landover Mall had been in its early years: classy, safe and worthy of acclaim.

What they have now, residents including Arthur Turner contend, is a shopping center struggling to maintain its anchors and the support from residents it needs to survive.

“We thought it would be the next frontier in economic development and retail in Prince George’s County,” said Turner, president of the Coalition of Central Prince George’s Community Organizations. “But that center has fallen woefully short of what we would have hoped for.”

I remember years ago when they were just about finished building the shopping center, some residents in the surrounding area were a little concerned about the type of stores in the shopping center. Looks like their worst fears have come true.

In addition to the slaying outside the Sideline, three men were gunned down at an Uno Chicago Grill after a fight in the restaurant during the 2008 Super Bowl. In 2005, a 21-year-old man was beaten to death outside Borders. A teenager was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Let’s not forget the off-duty Secret Service agent who a group of thugs tried to carjack at the Boulevard last year.  Luckily he was armed and shot at one of the thugs.

I remember when the Boulevard first opened and I decided to check the place out. While walking around I had a bad feeling. Having too many cellphone stores, shoe stores and not having a major anchor store was not going to attract the clientele that the shopping center was looking for. The only store I really consider any good is Borders Books and to be honest I’ve been in nicer Borders Book stores in other shopping areas. With the exception of a couple of eating places I like, I don’t go to the Boulevard that often. And it’s obvious that others feel the same way.

As he ate lunch recently in the Boulevard’s food court, Greg Perry said the mall is just “not his environment.” He patronizes the restaurants during the day but not at night because of the number of teenagers who hang around.

“And the problem is, teenagers will be teenagers,” he said.

Gregory Holmes, who lives about five miles from the Boulevard, said he takes his 8- and 12-year-old sons to the restaurants and the movie theater at the mall but doesn’t shop there. “We still have to travel outside of the county to spend our disposable income,” he said. “The income is here, the rooftops are here, and yet we don’t get the retail that we can support.”

If I want to keep my shopping dollars in Prince Georges County I shop at Bowie Town Center which is much nicer and has a better variety of stores. Otherwise the better shopping centers and malls are still outside Prince Georges County.

Everytime I visit a shopping center like Bowie Town Center or Annapolis Harbour Center, I think this could have been The Boulevard. Yes, even Annapolis Harbour Center is nicer than the Boulevard.

Parks said that he understands concerns about the number of stores that accommodate younger crowds but that Inland is meeting customer demand.

“There is a large market for teenagers and tweens that can not be ignored,” Parks said. “Studies have shown about $4 billion, and that’s with a B, in sales from this age group.”

He said the mall instituted a parental escort program last year to decrease loitering at night. Under the policy, security guards start asking teenagers unaccompanied by a parent or guardian for identification after 9 p.m. If the youth has no adult escort, he or she is asked to leave.

I understand the idea of attracting the large teen and tween demographic. But catering to that market alone will not attract those who work full time and have a higher disposable income. Some grown folks just don’t feel safe in a shopping environment filled with loud, out of control teenagers.

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