Wegmans supermarket officials have made it clear to Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond that the store will only open at Foundry Row, and nowhere else in Owings Mills.
“I know assertions have been made that an appropriate location for Wegmans may be the Owings Mills mall property,” read a letter to the councilwoman from Ralph Uttaro, Wegmans’ senior vice president of real estate development.
“We have consistently maintained our stance that the Owings Mills mall property is not a desirable location for a Wegmans store,” said the letter that was sent late last month.
Almond contacted Wegmans officials, who have signed on to open a store at the former Solo Cup site, to see how they felt about the mall property.
Two other developers near Foundry Row—the development where the Wegmans store would be located—have complained that Foundry Row is incompatible with their plans. Those developers are Kimco and General Growth Properties, which are overseeing the Owings Mills mall redevelopment and David S. Brown Enterprises, which is building the Metro Centre project.
Greenberg Gibbons is the developer working to redevelop the Solo Cup site with Wegmans and other retail. The Solo Cup site would have to be rezoned from a manufacturing to a business classification in order for Wegmans open.
Almond said she is trying to work with all of the developers.
“I’m trying to gather all the information I can to make a good judgment call for the zoning,” she said.
Uttaro’s letter said that Wegmans considered a request to put a store at the mall location several years ago and rejected the location back then.
“Annually, we are offered hundreds of sites, and we only choose 2-3 locations to build and open,” the letter said. “We consider the market, the specific site, the creativity of the project and the developer, among other things, in making our decision.”
The letter further states that if rezoning of the Solo Cup location is not approved, Wegmans will “not locate a store at Owings Mills Mall.”
“I’ve made no promises, but at the same time, I’ve shown my excitement for the project and I’m excited and I’m excited for all three projects,” Almond said.
Officials involved with the mall redevelopment and Metro Centre project have expressed opposition to the Solo Cup redevelopment, not to Wegmans specifically.
“This is a retail development that somewhat out-positions the mall, and if you put big box retailers out on Reisterstown Road, it will have a dramatic impact on who can be attracted to come back to the mall,” said Geoffrey Glazer, Kimco’s vice president of acquisitions and development for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. “Good planning is not based around a retailer, it’s based around a good planning exercise for what’s appropriate to be around a corridor.”
The Owings Mills Corporate Roundtable and the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce have expressed their support for all three projects. Almond also thinks the three developments can work together and thrive together.
“In my opinion, all three sites are incredibly different and will offer different services and different retail,” she said. “… I think people in our area and from all over our area are so hungry for places to shop so they don’t have to go outside their community.”