A study funded by Foundry Row developer Greenberg Gibbons says the company’s proposed improvements will remedy some traffic problems in the Reisterstown Road corridor.
A memo from Mickey Cornelius of Baltimore-based The Traffic Group says that the proposed Wegmans-anchored retail and office center will improve a crucial intersection.
“With significant road improvements to be made by the developers of Foundry Row, traffic conditions at the critical intersection of Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill Road will be better with the full development of the site than conditions projected without Foundry Row,” according to the memo.
The Solo Cup site is the subject of a heated zoning debate. The traffic study has done little to cool the debate over the controversial project -- especially with other developers who oppose Foundry Row.
“I don’t believe a word they say,” said Howard Brown, chairman of David S. Brown Enterprises. He expects the company will have to release its traffic study at some point, and have it critiqued.
Brown, the developer the nearby Metro Center at Owings Mills project, and others contend that Foundry Row will increase local traffic, hurt the market by creating an oversupply of retail and will prevent successful redevelopment at the Owings Mills Mall. His company held a groundbreaking ceremony for three new buildings Tuesday morning.
Greenberg Gibbons declined to release a copy of the full study to Patch and said it will be made public during the development process.
The Baltimore County Council will vote August 28 whether or not to rezone the Solo Cup plant on Reisterstown Road from manufacturing to retail in the fall.
Study Addresses Traffic Woes
Greenberg Gibbons plans to invest $7 million to $10 million in off-site road improvements.
The proposed traffic improvements include:
- A new traffic signal to access the site on Painters Mill Road just northeast of the bridge
- A new right-in/right-out access to Painters Mill Road further from Reisterstown Road than the existing access
- Improved access to Reisterstown Road at Garrison View Road
- Widening Reisterstown Road for a double left turn lane onto Painters Mill Road
- Widening Painters Mill Road for a double right turn onto Reisterstown Road
- Installation of a median on Reisterstown Road between Painters Mill Road and Garrison View Road to improve safety at Reisterstown Road/St. Thomas Lane intersection by eliminating left turns
The widening of Reisterstown Road will require part of Foundry Row’s land, which the developer will convey to the state of Maryland.
“We believe we have come up with a plan that addresses the traffic issues that, otherwise left undeveloped, would occur,” said Tom Fitzpatrick, president and COO at Greenberg Gibbons. “The state doesn’t have the money, the state doesn’t have the right of way. We’re donating and conveying our right of way out of our real estate to the [Maryland] State Highway [Administration] in order to be able to make these accommodations.”
The traffic study looked at what traffic would be like if the Metro Centre were fully developed and if the mall were redeveloped under Kimco’s plan. It also compared what traffic would be like with Foundry Row, opposed to Solo Cup remaining a manufacturing site.
When fully developed, the Metro Centre willl include 1.2 million square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, 1,700 apartments, a 120,000-square foot community college and library building, and hotels with up to 250 rooms. The mall revamp would include approximately one million square feet of retail.
Manufacturing operations at Solo Cup would generate more rush hour traffic during the week, but less traffic on the weekends, according to the Foundry Row traffic study. The construction of office space on the site, which is allowed under current zoning without road improvements, would draw “significantly more traffic during the morning peak hour and slightly less traffic in the evening peak hour than Foundry Row,” according to the memo.
With Metro Centre and the mall redevelopment, several intersections would fail without the improvements from Foundry Row. The intersection of Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill Road would fail, but with Foundry Row improvements, it could maintain a state highway grade of C. Even during evening rush hour and during Saturday peak hours, the Foundry Row improvements would maintain a ‘D’ at the intersection, according to the Greenberg Gibbons traffic memo.
“Traffic’s important to us. It has to work for us, too,” Fitzpatrick said. “We don’t want to create and invest $140 million in a project that won’t work.”
Developers and others opposed to the Solo Cup project remain unconvinced.
Geoff Glazer, vice president of acquisitions and development for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions for mall redeveloper Kimco, didn’t want to comment until he saw the full study.
“What I think everybody’s been wanting to see is the detailed information that gets them to that conclusion,” he said. Two Kimco-funded studies released in March cautioned against too much development, saying the market could only bear so much retail and traffic.
Shirley Supik, leader of the grassroots opposition group Say No to Solo Coalition, said Greenberg Gibbons’ findings were “from a crystal ball,” and the planned improvements would help Foundry Row, but traffic would bottleneck elsewhere.
“Mr. Gibbons is the only one with this fantasy idea that it’s going to be better,” she said.