When the ACME grocery chain announced in October 2017 that it would close its St. Michaels store on North Talbot Street, the townspeople grew concerned. Not only were they losing a grocery store, but the building also commands a prominent position on Talbot Street. It could easily become an eyesore once the building was vacated.
Less than two years later, the former grocery store had been completely reimagined, redeveloped, and reopened by local developer Bob Hockaday and his wife, Julie Moriarty Hockaday. Today, St. Michaels Town Center is a vibrant, bustling center of commerce and a testament to the good that can come with change.
“We love St. Michaels,” Bob says. “We wanted to do something really good for the town as well as take an important piece of real estate, upgrade it, and bring it into the 21st century.”
Though he grew up on a farm in the Baltimore area, Bob attended Washington College in Chestertown. He and wife Julie Moriarty Hockaday made St. Michaels their primary Residence in 2010 and subsequently opened Guilford & Company Fine Jewelry, a store that specializes in antique and estate jewelry.
Both Bob and Julie have offices in the lovingly restored two-story yellow house that sits at the corner of Talbot and Cherry streets, another one of the couple’s redevelopment projects. “We take existing structures and redevelop them,” Bob explains. “We have taken buildings that need life put back into them. A typical project for us is the old ACME Building here in town.
“We looked out our windows, and we saw the condition of the old ACME building,” he continues. “When ACME announced that they were going to close, we wanted to renovate it and restore it and bring it back to its vibrant self.”
It was important to the Hockadays that the side of the building facing Talbot Street be attractive, but the development team for this project paid attention to all four sides of the building while designing the project. “We were very sensitive to the fact that we have the library, the police station, and Blue Crab Coffee to the rear of the building so we wanted to also beautify that,” Bob explains.
Chesapeake Bay Outfitters. Charisma Clothing Boutique, Reclaimed Furniture, Provident State Bank, and Sprout St. Michaels are now residents of Town Center St. Michaels. Bob also has plans to add a boutique hotel above the existing businesses.
“The feedback we have received from the community is absolutely fabulous,” Bob says. “We believe in doing Class A properties. We have developed a Business philosophy that whenever we build or renovate a project, it has to be of the same standards as if we have our offices or retail locations located there. Not only is it important to us, but also of importance to the community as a whole.”