As the Baltimore County Board of Elections nears a decision on whether or not to bring recent zoning changes to referendum, Foundry Row developers are moving full steam ahead.
“We believe we have every legal right – the county also believes we have every legal right – to process this plan,” said David Gildea, attorney for Foundry Row developer Greenberg Gibbons.
Foundry Row officials updated the community on its plans for the $140 million center in a community input meeting at New Town High School Thursday night. The Wegmans-anchored development is set to contain 420,000 total square feet of retail, restaurants and office space at the site of the vacant Solo Cup plant on Reisterstown Road.
Two groups backed by opposing developers have filed 170,000 signatures asking to bring the county’s rezoning decisions to referendum, very little time was spent on the issue at Thursday’s meeting. Those groups aim to overturn two zoning decisions, one being the Baltimore County Council rezoning The Solo Cup site from manufacturing to retail in August, making way for Foundry Row.
Shirley Supik, leader of the Say No To Solo Coalition, said Foundry Row officials can do and say what they want, but she believes the people have spoken out against the project via those signatures.
“As long as the people are not happy with it, then it cannot go forward," she said.
While the referendum has been the subject of heated debate among the communuity, it was discussed minimally at Thursday's meeting.
“People were interested in the actual project,” said Ruth Goldstein, president of the Greater Midfield Association, which represents homes in the Greenspring Valley.
Questions from the crowd focused on traffic, the mix of retailers and road improvements.
Mickey Cornelius of Baltimore-based The Traffic Group reviewed the $7 to $10 million in road improvements Greenberg Gibbons plans to make, which his study says will improve traffic conditions in the corridor.
Mike Pieranunzi, a landscape architect with Century Engineering who gave the main presentation, said the project will have about 90 more parking spaces than the county’s required 2,150.
Greenberg Gibbons CEO Brian Gibbons, who wanted the aerial view of the project to be more symmetrical, made a small tweak to the plan. He added a fourth story to the Foundry Building, the focal point of the project’s Main Street, by taking 20,000 square feet off of a retail building.
The Foundry Building, which was originally going to house a bottom floor of retail and two upper floors of office space, will now house three upper floors of office space, giving the project 60,000 square feet of office space and 360,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
In addition to Wegmans, Foundry Row will house a national fitness center, a national sporting good retailer and a national shoe retailer. Gibbons hopes to open the center by spring 2015.
As the referendum threatens to stop Foundry Row, Greenberg Gibbons has taken its own action with the county Board of Elections.
“We have filed an objection and I think it’s under consideration,” Gibbons said.
Cheryl Aaron, zoning committee chair at the Greater Greenspring Association, said the referendum going to ballot was set a “devastating” precedent for Baltimore County communities.
“There was nothing wrong with the [Comprehensive Zoning Map Process],” she said at Thursday’s meeting. “We’ve had more access than ever in this go-round.”