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LAUREL, MD-Laurel Mall–or Laurel Centre Mall as it was originally called when it opened in 1979–sits in an area with a current trade population of about 377,000, a number that is expected to increase to more than 400,000 in a year’s time. Crown will take over management of the mall in December, and expects the deal will prove to be a successful one. “It works well for us because it is within our region,” says Crown vice president of corporate communications and marketing Christine Menna. “We own malls in Frederick and Hagerstown, MD, so geographically it’s a good fit.” Crown’s portfolio of regional shopping malls amounts to about 16 million sf of leasable retail space in eight states.

The Laurel Mall deal represents the first third-party management contract in which Crown has been involved. “We had formed Crown America Ventures earlier this year [specifically] to go after third party contracts,” Menna explains.

The company is not deterred by the effects of the September terrorist attacks on the retail industry. In a recent statement on Crown’s third-quarter accomplishments, CEO and President Mark E. Pasquerilla notes that after September 11, consumer traffic in Crown’s malls declined almost 4%. But he points out that “by the end of September traffic had returned to the pre-attack trends we had seen earlier in the year, which were very marginal declines compared to year ago levels.” In regard to future mall traffic, Pasquerilla adds that “to the degree that families defer travel and vacation plans and stay closer to home, we believe there is more opportunity for our malls to capture a greater portion of consumers’ disposable income that may have been spent on travel.”

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