The Owings Mills Mall redevelopment could be in trouble if the Baltimore County Council approves commercial rezoning along Reisterstown Road, including at the former Solo Cup manufacturing property, a vice president for the mall developer said.
Geoffrey Glazer, vice president of acquisitions and development for Kimco Realty, which is a 50 percent stakeholder at the mall along with previous sole owner General Growth Properties, said there simply were not enough shoppers to keep the new mall -- and the new retail developments rezoning might create -- afloat.
He said if Baltimore County does not spend more time on planning, the redeveloped mall could again become a blight on the area. The existing indoor Owings Mills mall has been in decline for years.
“We believe there needs to be some real thorough thought about planning,” Glazer said. “I’m concerned about all the potential up-zoning on Reisterstown Road.”
The Solo Cup site, currently zoned for manufacturing, must be rezoned before developer Greenberg Gibbons Commercial can begin work in earnest on its 400,000-square foot Foundry Row retail project. High-end grocer Wegmans will cover more than 125,000-square feet of the development, which has been likened to a small-scale Hunt Valley Towne Centre.
But, according to Glazer, allowing rezoning at Solo Cup in addition to other commercial rezoning requests in the area could spread the retail market too thin in Owings Mills.
“So, maybe the previous owner didn’t move quickly enough [at the mall],” Glazer said. “But we’re here now." Kimco intends to release plans for what the redevelopment might look like in January, Glazer said.
He also said that each development would bring the best out of the others, and that his office would maintain an "ongoing dialogue with all three project developers to coordinate a marketing scheme that will be complementary and not competitive."
But Kimco was not necessarily on board with that idea.
“Not everything can happen," Glazer said. "I think people need to have better answers.”
Glazer based his assertion partially on 2011 Nielsen Company estimates that indicated 577,000 people with an average household income of better than $82,000 lived within a 10-mile radius of Owings Mills.
The numbers already calculated and provided to Kimco led the developer to believe there would be plenty of shoppers to populate some 600,000-square feet of new retail at the mall – but not when combined with significant additional development in the corridor.
Glazer said Kimco was aware of potential rezoning at Solo Cup and elsewhere, but “not to the level we know now.
“It all happened really quickly after [the mall redevelopment announcement],” he said.
Kimco has also hired a Washington, D.C., group to conduct an independent marketing study. The results will be available in January, Glazer said.
Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond (District 2), who represents the area that includes the old Solo Cup property, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Councilman Kenneth Oliver (District 4), who represents the rest of Owings Mills, including the land on which the mall is situated, said he intended to meet with Almond next week to discuss all of the rezoning requests in the area. He declined specific comment on Kimco’s concerns.
In the meantime, Glazer said Kimco was receiving tepid interest from potential tenants, who were waiting to see what happened with rezoning in the area before deciding whether to sign on with the redeveloped regional shopping center.
“We’re out there, talking to players,” Glazer said. “They want clarity.”
That clarity comes when the rezoning decisions are made in September, he said, but there appears to already be a campaign beginning to stop rezoning plans.
A flyer left at an Owings Mills home pleaded with voters to tell Almond and Kamenetz that rezoning parts of Reisterstown Road was not in the best interest of the area.
Office numbers for Almond and Kamenetz were listed at the bottom of the flyer, which was e-mailed to Patch by a resident.
Glazer denied Kimco was passing out the unsigned flyer, but said he was pleased that someone else appeared to agree with him.
"The last thing I want is for this to be a white elephant," Glazer said.