Community Surrounding Solo Cup Says 'No' to Foundry Row

Patch hit the streets to speak with residents and business owners near the Solo Cup plant, where developers are proposing to build the Wegmans-anchored center Foundry Row. Here's what they said.

As developers make moves on three Owings Mills projects, residents and business owners near the most controversial of the three remain concerned about negative impacts to the community.

From grocery store employees to business owners to residents of , everyone's got something to say about, the Wegmans-anchored center proposed for the Solo Cup plant.

Developer Greenberg Gibbons has applied to down-zone the property from manufacturing to retail, and plans to build a 130,000 square foot Wegmans, approximately 243,000 square feet of other retail, 13,500 square feet of restaurants and 40,000 square feet of office space.

The developers behind two other projects -- the transit-oriented development and the -- have to Foundry Row, citing traffic and an oversupply of retail among their concerns.

Patch conducted random man-on-the-street interviews in the area around the Solo Cup plant and the apartments directly across the street. Most people interviewed have concerns with the project.

Charmaine Brown, a employee, said she thought the development, specifically the Wegmans that will anchor the project, would have a negative effect on surrounding businesses, including Safeway.

“Traffic is the main reason why everybody’s against [the Solo Cup development],” she said.

Several others cited traffic as a major concern.

“Every day there’s an accident,” said Mabin Prabsan, the manager of Deli 23, an Owings Mills convenience store. “If they come, maybe every day [there will be] 20.”

Justin Rosen, a resident of , which is directly across from Solo Cup, said that he believed that the difficult turn into the apartment community will become even harder with the introduction of Foundry Row. New to the area, Rosen explained that he didn’t know too much about the issue, but wondered why the Wegmans couldn’t be a part of the Owings Mills Mall redevelopment.

Some don't think community opposition has much power in this situation.

“They may do [the three projects together] no matter what people want, and we’ll have to live with the consequences,” said Charles Winkelman, the owner of Signs by Tomorrow, an Owings Mills sign and graphics company. Winkelman is pessimistic about the Foundry Row project because of the current economic climate.

“Just a little drive about will tell you how many retailers are hurting in this area, and now they’re going to build a humongous campus to compete with these folks,” he said.

Prabsan had similar sentiments, saying that business was hurting, and the addition of the Wegmans could put him out of business.
While many oppose Foundry Row, there are some local residents that see the potential benefits.

“It brings something new and something interesting to the community,” said Janet Barnes, who lives in Mill Towne Village. Barnes shops at Giant, and doesn’t expect that to change with a Wegmans nearby. Still, she sees herself shopping at the new grocery anchor occasionally because of the convenient location.

Those on both sides of the fence will hear about the fate of the proposed development on Tuesday, Aug. 28, when the Baltimore County Council votes whether or not to rezone the Solo Cup plant.

gabbyfan August 09, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Sher Katz: I love your posts. They are written with consistent clarity and articulation. You obviously understand the complex issues extremely well and are able to communicate strong messages in support of your position. To supplement the income of your family, I believe you have the intelligence and writing ability to possibly work for a professional firm engaged in Social Media. You would be a strong asset to a company promoting a product, service or idea interested in spreading positive messages. Something to think about -- good luck and I look forward to your future posts.
Sher Katz August 09, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Thank you for the positive feedback gabbyfan. I am currently working on finishing a second degree and hoping to reenter the job market summer 2013.
EB Levitt August 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM
KW expressed my thoughts exactly. Wegman's would draw consumers from outside the Owings Mills area who would shop at other local retailers. It sounds like the project would include traffic modifications that are greatly needed. I just look at the success of Hunt Valley Towne Center sparked by Wegman's and think that our area could use some well-regarded retailers who would create a "destination" and more vitality for our area. It would help our property values, too, by giving our area more prestige. Plus, I'd much rather see Wegman's than another manufacturing company at the site.
Chuck Burton August 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Momofmany August 12, 2012 at 01:54 AM
In case you didn't realize it this isn't China, Mexico or the wholly owned US govt.GM corporation. Therefore the chance of some type of manufacturing coming to the Solo site is about as good as a profitable steelmaker coming to Sparrows Point! In fact if you didn't notice it we gave away most if not all manufacturing when we started paying the unskilled workers who push those buttons about $85/hr.? So while there are many issues with a "traffic study" the probability of having a big factory is not one of them. Besides the factory might prefer the soon to be x-Safeway or x-Giant sites they will be vacant within a year of the Wegman's project adding more blight to the area with more empty square footage. But don't panic yet because we could always get M.O.M. to call another "special session" and take the returned state owned slot machines and place them at both sites? And just think about it? Those revenues could then air condition all of our schools (as promised) and repair their crumbling infrastructure? So where does it all end................."Politics" aint it grand!
Chuck Burton August 12, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Mom Of Many says the Safeway and Giant sites will be empty within a year od Wegmans opening, contributing to area blight. I notice that the Giant near the Hunt Valley Wegmans is still in business after these several years, and apparently doing well. By bringing in more shoppers, Wegmans might well contribute to an improvement in business for those other stores.
Dad of Dozens August 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Chuck, Chuckie baby: Apparently doing well. What do you base that on? It does well among those that apply the Yogi Berrism, "nobody goes there anymore because it is too crowded" theory. That Giant is a glorified 7-11. A store with a long-time lease cannot simply close because they will still owe the monthly rent. You are all starry-eyed by this store and cannot see the big picture, my man.
KW August 12, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Dad of Dozens: The same can be asked of you: on what hard evidence do you base your comments? By what concrete measure is that Giant a glorified 7-11? Also you've implied that the store only remains open because it has to continue to pay its lease. How do you know this? I don't run that Giant and am not privy to any inside information about its management or operations, however, stores do sometimes close before their lease is up. The store has to keep paying the lease, however, they don't have the additional expenses of an open store (electricity, workers, stock, etc., etc.) in addition to the lease. I would expect Giant to consider that option and take that course if it was appropriate for them.
Chuck Burton August 12, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Dad of Dozens - is that another version of Mom of Many? I'm sure Giant would love to know their stores are just glorified 7-11s. And if they wanted out of a lease, I'm sur their lawyers would find a way. As for being starry eyed abiut Wegmans, I go their mostly for paper goods, laundry supplies and staples - some meats cheeses and produce. I mostly avoid their specialties or I'll spend more than I want to there. Giant, Aldi, Trader Joe and Mars will still get most of my business when Wegmans comes in.
KW August 12, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Momofmany: You are obviously passionate about the community. You don't think manufacturing is a viable choice for the Solo site, so what do you think should go to the site? You said that there is a lot of blight in the area, and Safeway and Giant (and other area businesses) will end up closing because of Wegmans, increasing the blight. This is a recurring argument from those opposed to the Foundry Row project. I'm curious: if the project is so bad for local business, why do you think so many of the local Chambers of Commerce expressed support of the project? These groups are made up of local business owners. They would not, presumably support a project that will put them all out of business. Personally, I don't see what I consider lots of blight (besides the mall, Franks, and the horrid shopping center at Painters Mill and Reisterstown). I do see some empty space, but I think that is because we can't get the *right* retailers, not because we can't support the retail. This area has plenty of residents with money to spend and almost everyone shops elsewhere. That tells me that we can support more retail than what we have. I'm not convinced that David S. Brown knows what kind of retail we need. Baed on past comments and plans, I'm pretty sure that the mall developer doesn't know what we need. I have strong concerns about the success of those projects, and I don't think refusing a project that will likely be successful (Foundry Row) will help those projects or Owings Mills.
gabyfan August 14, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Sher Katz: Good luck with your second degree. You seem to have a natural flair for writing and presenting clear thoughts. I hope this degree is in the field of writing. You seem almost professional now! You may also consider a part-time job now to supplement your family's income. The field of Social Media allows people of all ages to work their own hours and from their homes. All you need is information to present issues and positions and, of course, great communication skills. Which you have. I am sure there are Social Media organizations in the Owings Mills area. Good luck and keep up the GREAT work!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sher Katz August 15, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Though my degree is not in writing, it is a business/math degree and will probably require a certain amount of writing reports. I have not thought of myself in the light of a professional writer, as math has been my strong suit. If you know of any jobs that are available for a mid-career woman with 4 children at home, carrying a 16 credits each for the next two semesters, with 24 years of business experience, 14 of those in management, let me know. It is an interesting concept of working for social media. I thoroughly love the research and get consumed by conveying the messages in a particular manner. Again, thank you.
BrownGirl71 August 16, 2012 at 04:17 PM
So, the people supporting Say No are not utilizing Facebook to express their opposition to rezoning. Instead they are out in the streets signing petitions. Facebook is only one mode of communication, not the ONLY method to express an opinion. 7000+ signatures should stand for something and not be minimized just because it flies in the face of what some other people adamantly want to happen. 7000+ is a tremendous response on an issue that plenty of power players thought was just going to sail through the Baltimore County Council...
Sher Katz August 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
BrownGirl, it would be interesting to see the geographic breakdown of the residents who compose these 7,100 signatures. I would hope the county would put someone on that task, immediately, as to take a more informed view of the percentage of residents in our immediate area who actually object to this project. Should someone who lives in Catonsville have a say about what goes on in Owings Mills? I live in Owings Mills and wouldn't begin to think I should tell a Catonsville resident what should happen in their community.
BrownGirl71 August 16, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I live and shop in the area, and I received 3 postcards in support of Foundry Row. I read them each time and trashed them... No thank you, GG! There are plenty of other locations in NW Baltimore County to put a new retail mall-size shopping center. I am just not buying the gimmick that the SOLO Cup site is the only answer. Sorry to differ with so many STRONG, largely one-sided opinions here on Patch, but it is what it is. The elected officials will have to draw the line on Aug 28.
Chuck Burton August 16, 2012 at 06:28 PM
BrownGirl, you are correct that the county council will have to "draw the line on August 28". One wonders how many of Mr. Oliver's supporters will still suppport him after he leads a movement to deny District 4 voters the chance to conveniently shop and perhaps to WORK at Wegmans and the other businesses proposed for Foundry Row. The new Walmart won't give everyone a job who wants one.
Chuck Burton August 16, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Also, if any mall sized shopping center in the NW area is in the wrong location, one could makle a good argument that it's the Owings Mills Mall.
BrownGirl71 August 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Geography shouldn't matter. Everyone and anyone can have a stake in the outcome of the rezoning issue. People come from all over to work and play in Owings Mills. We pay State and County taxes and fees which may be used for any number of projects across the State and County. Just because someone lives in Catonsville does not mean he does not have an interest in what is happening in Owings Mills or any other place.
BrownGirl71 August 16, 2012 at 07:04 PM
@ Chuck... From what I have heard from people who oppose the rezoning is that this has nothing to do with loving or hating Ken Oliver... They are wanting to have a voice in the decision-making process and not feel like changes that affect their pocketbooks are being shoved down their throats. I also wonder about all these jobs that are allegedly going to come to the area. Are the majority of these jobs going to pay well enough to support a household (salary and benefits), or just more PT, seasonal type jobs that pay very little? Just asking the question...
KW August 16, 2012 at 10:41 PM
BrownGirl, your argument has merit on the surface. Certainly, people other than those who actually live in the region could have a stake in this. However, it is also just as possible that people from outside the region aren't very knowledgable about and won't be affected by the issues here. The signatures are more legitimate when they are obtained from people in Owings Mills, whether for work or as residents. It seems a stretch to think that a random person selected from elsewhere in Baltimore County will be aware of the issues and be able to make an informed decision about the project. For that reason, it appears irresponsible and self-serving to obtain signatures from all around the county as the Vote No group has done. That action also seems to suggest that they could not garner enough support for their cause from people who have a vested interest in the area. Owings Mills alone has a population of over 30,000, plus many more people come here for work. If there is as much opposition as claimed, why travel all around the county for signatures when there are plenty to be had here? I say that geography should and does have bearing.
Chuck Burton August 17, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Brown Girl, you state that people come from all over to work and play in Owings Mills. Yes, there are a number of employers here, especially auto dealers, who might combine to hire the most people; but, from the traffic patterns, I think maybe more local people work elsewhere, than outside people work here. And, as for play, there are some bars and restaurants, a couple of movie-plexes, athletic events at Stevenson U. and the high schools, and a few plays, concerts and art shows there and at JCC, and that about covers it. We have to go elsewhere for most of our non-tube entertainment, and there isn't all that much to draw people in. Foundry Row won't change that, of course, but the better impression it makes may help to lead entrepreneurs to eventually bring in more activities. Worth a shot, anyway.
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 02:21 AM
@ KW - I beg to differ. It is entire possible and reasonable for people who live elsewhere to be very informed and interested in what is going on in other parts of the region. Just because I don't live in downtown Baltimore or on the Eastern Shore, does not mean I do not care or have a vested interest in the issues that impact those areas, for example. I just don't think it is fair to complete discount another's choice of which 'side' they are on concerning this issue simply because they don't have a physical address across the street from the project. Those charged with making this important decision about rezoning, which will end up costing all of us something, should seriously consider everything at their disposal, even those 7000+ signatures on the petitions.
Tracie August 17, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I would think that if there are as many people blogging about how much Foundry Row needs to be approved, they would have been there last week to speak... And if you didn't know there was a CC meeting last week, then you aren't as informed as you claim to be.... The turnout was phenomenal for the opposition....I loved every minute!!!!
KW August 17, 2012 at 01:30 PM
The council already had meetings to hear comments on zoning issues. The meeting earlier this month was not for that purpose. However, your coalition chose to go any way. That is why only the coalition and a couple others attended the meeting. This was probably in an orchestrated attempt by the coalition to make it seem as though there was little or no support for the project. In general, people are much more likely to go out of their way to complain about something than they are to say they like something. So even when a minority oppose an issue, they can be so vocal as to appear that they are the majority. It is unfortunate but true.
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 01:42 PM
The monthly County Council meeting is public, which means any member of the public can attend and have an opportunity to voice a concern. That's what 100+ members of the public who oppose the rezoning request did on August 6. Those in support of rezoning could have done the same thing if they chose to.
KW August 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM
BrownGirl- You misunderstand me. I think that people who work in the area or come frequently for other reasons may have valid concerns about development, and their input should matter. Those people can be found directly in the OM area. It is not likely that a random person found at a grocery store in Timonium or a fair in Catonsville will be someone who meets that criteria. Again, if there is so much opposition in the OM area, why not obtain signatures from the OM area where you will find most of the people who have a vested interest in this matter? Yes, a random person from Catonsville who doesn't come to OM much might have heard the news stories and have an opinion, but should their opinion be given the same weight as someone who lives in OM? I'd say not. We all have opinions, whether the subject is our business or not.
Sher Katz August 17, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Browngirl, Wegmans pays more than a decent salary and has excellent benefits for their employees. Do you live in Owings Mills and have teenagers or kids in college trying to get part time jobs to help pay their expenses? I do. Wegmans even pays their cashiers way more than minimum wage. My oldest son has worked fo 2+ years locally at the same job. His pay is more than $3 LESS an hour than what I understand Wegmans pays their cashiers. Yes, he has tried to get another job, guess what, there isn't any. My second oldest son, tried for half the summer to get a job, nothing. He's been volunteering ever since giving up looking for employment. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2010/snapshots/3.html
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM
@ Sher... Yes, I live here and yes, I have children... I am putting children through college now. That was the purpose of my question. There are a lot of people in this very situation, and I would like to know how many regular FT jobs with sufficient salary and benefits would really be in play to sustain a household... not just jobs for teenagers or PT seasonal, temp type jobs that generally require people to work multiple PT jobs or seek public assistance to make ends meet. Thanks for the link... I will check it out.
Shirley Supik August 17, 2012 at 08:51 PM
The Coalition actually collected a little over 9,500 signatures in Districts 1,2 & 4. We pulled 2,500 because they were not residents of Baltimore County. However, they worked or shopped or visited friend or family in our area and felt since they travel Reisterstown Road and shopped in this area they had a right to voice their opinion. Since these are the people we want to draw into the area for economics, I felt the same way, but I knew that some people would find fault with anyone but locals, so I opted for just those at 7,100.
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