The oldest shopping center in Howard County will soon be among the most modern. First opened in 1961 by the Moxley family, Normandy Shopping Center in Ellicott City is in the midst of an extensive makeover that began in December 2018.

Normandy’s decline began with the loss of its anchor grocery store in 2008. More stores left the retail center in the ensuing years as foot traffic dropped off and the original building has been vacant since 2016.

Rather than seeing it as an end, its owners saw it as a new opportunity.

“It was stripped down to its original masonry shell and is being completely rebuilt: roof, building systems, everything,” said Rob Moxley, vice president of Normandy Venture Limited Partnership, owner and developer of the property.

“It’s a 24.5 acre site that consists of five buildings,” said his cousin, David Moxley, a co-owner of the property. “We’re retrofitting those and making improvements to the overall site.”

Retail Focus

Photo by Emily Calkins

With its prime location along Route 40 in eastern Howard County, the Normandy property has a lot of untapped potential.

In 2018, the Howard County Council approved a zoning change to permit nursing homes and residential care facilities in General Business (B2) zoned properties like Normandy that are serviced by public water and sewer.

At the time, Normandy Venture Partnership was considering an offer to develop a nursing home residential care on 5.9 acres of undeveloped land behind the original shopping center, but those plans did not move forward.

The property also has a Traditional Neighborhood Center (TNC) zoning overlay, which would allow mixed retail and residential projects.

“We are not pursuing any TNC plan at this time, but it is something that could be done in the future,” Rob Moxley said, acknowledging that the group of family owners prefers to see the 104,000 square foot original retail establishment improved and re-leased to new commercial retail tenants.

“Overall, the project cost is approximately $20 million,” David Moxley said, adding that the family anticipates delivering suites to new tenants in September.

Unique Offerings

When Normandy Shopping Center first opened, the original owners took an innovative approach for the time, searching the entire nation to find tenants.

Innovation still holds, with leasing partner MFI Realty of Baltimore targeting unique offerings that are in demand or positioned to bring a welcome addition to the corridor.

“It’s generic retail we’re seeking, but we’re having a lot of interest for restaurant uses,” David Moxley said.

At the moment, the center is approximately 60 percent pre-leased, with some pending agreements that may soon bring that number closer to 79 percent, he said.

Confirmed tenants include a Kids First Swim School, a Planet Fitness gym, a Nail Trix nail spa, a Honey Pig Korean BBQ franchise, My Salon Suite, and an All American Steakhouse and Sports Theatre.

Other uses the owners would like to see include a retail clothing outlet.

“A lot of the foods we’re going to be putting in are going to be a little different, and that’s going to be a real nice addition for the corridor,” David Moxley said.

Innovative Retail

Billed as a family-friendly casual dining restaurant, the All American Steakhouse franchise is a local success story that originated in Edgewater and features dry-aged steaks hand-cut by in-house butchers, with inexpensive entrees ranging from $10 to $30.

The Normandy Shopping Center location will become the eighth restaurant in the chain, which currently serves Maryland and northern Virginia.

The My Salon Suite will also bring a unique service to the Route 40 corridor with an innovative business model that allows local beauty professionals to own a business without the upfront costs and risks associated with the industry.

According to the My Salon Suite website, its locations feature a collection of private, fully-furnished salons that are appointed with high-end luxury amenities and salon equipment for different specialties of health and beauty professionals, ranging from hair stylists to massage therapists, spa professionals and skin treatment experts.

The arrangement does not require beauty professionals to split their income with the salon and also allows them the freedom to sell their own choice of beauty products.

Normandy Venture Limited Partnership’s partners in the project include Brasher Design of Columbia, Tarantino Engineering Consultants of Fulton, Hencken & Gaines construction of Cockeysville and several other local subcontractors.

“They’re banging along pretty hard right now and we’ve got everything from sprinkler systems going in to roof deck going on, so the project is on schedule,” David Moxley said. “We’re happy with it. I think it’s going to be a real benefit to the corridor once it’s complete and it’s going to make a nice eastern entranceway to the county.”

By George Berkheimer | Senior Writer | The Business Monthly | April 2020 issue