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Update: Debate Intensifies Over Foundry Row Development

With the Baltimore County Planning Board recommending retail development at the Solo Cup site, more groups are stepping forward to have their voices heard.

Owings Mills developers are in waiting mode. It will be fall before the Baltimore County Council makes a decision on one of three grand visions for what had become a development dead zone where past building plans failed to materialize.

But community groups are marshaling to make their preferences known, particularly since the Baltimore County Planning Board recommended rezoning the Solo Cup site on Reisterstown Road for retail.

The Combined Communities Advocacy Council of Greater Randallstown (CCACGR) sent a letter to Councilwoman Vicki Almond last week in support of the proposed Wegmans-anchored retail project on Reisterstown Road.

The group joins the Owings Mills Corporate Roundtable, the Greater Greenspring Association, Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce and Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council in support of all three proposed Owings Mills projects.

“The Northwest Baltimore County area has been underserved by quality retailers and restaurants for years,” CCACGR chair Aaron Plymouth wrote. “We believe all three proposed retail projects will complement one another and will bring a desired town center concept for the Owings Mills area as well.”

has also expressed her support for all three projects.

Among the other two developments are the transit-oriented , which features , offices, shops and apartments. It is now under construction.

The other is Kimco’s proposed , which would abandon the indoor mall concept and feature an outdoor, pedestrian-friendly town center with approximately 1 million square feet of retail and restaurants, with a fashion district centered around the existing JCPenney and Macy’s.

But not all community groups are in favor of all development.

A group of residents calling itself the Say No to Solo Coalition recently joined officials from Kimco and David S. Brown, the developer building Metro Centre, in opposition to Foundry Row. Like the developers, Say No to Solo says 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.

“We are a coalition of Baltimore County residents who think 400,000 square feet of new retail at the Solo Cup site on Reisterstown Road is bad for traffic, bad for business and bad for our communities,” the group’s website says.

The Baltimore County Council will hold a public hearing on rezoning issues at Pikesville High School on Thursday, June 7, at 6 p.m. Citizens can sign up to speak for two minutes.

ddbs00 May 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM
I've gotten pro-Solo development mailers that are clearly marked as being from Greenberg Gibbons, but I don't know who's behind the Say No to Solo Coalition. Until they're ready to identify themselves I can only assume they're Brown/Kimco trying to be sneaky. And no one likes a sneak.
BrownGirl71 May 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM
The "sneaks" are the parties (including the County Council leadreship) who have already had 'side bar' discussions with GG outside of the established planning/rezoning process and have essentially called the Solo rezone a done deal that "needs to happen." Now, if no final vote by the County Council has occurred yet, how is it a "done deal" unless some promises have already been made? Good old fashioned politics...
Marc Shapiro (Editor) May 23, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I interviewed the woman behind the coalition yesterday after this story was done. She's a community advocate from Randallstown. I'll tell her story in an article in the near future.
ddbs00 May 23, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Are you trying to tell me that neither Kimco nor, and especially, Brown have ever used politics and the county council to their own benefits? I find that highly unlikely considering Brown had a near monopoly on OM development until Foundry Row came along.
BrownGirl71 May 23, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I doubt either side has completely 'clean hands' in this debate. I just find it disturbing that it sounds like a final zoning decision has been made by the County Council leadership when the final vote has not been taken yet.
Chuck Burton May 23, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Greenberg Gibbons should bring in a quality merchandiser to their development to compliment Wegmans - Walmart and Target don't quite do it, and there is nothing else in the Reisterstown Rd corridor outside the Mall, which is in a lousy, hidden location where it is ignored most of the time. What else is available here? A handful of fast foods and lots of automobiles. I don't know why Mr. Brown is so opposed to Foundry Row - I haven't seen anything in his Metro Centre plans that would be competitive.
ddbs00 May 23, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Isn't that pretty much how things work in this state, though? As long as it can get out of committee (in this case the Planning Board) it'll be rubber stamped by the full council/house/senate/whatever, unless it's a budget or something else unimportant.
BCalvert May 23, 2012 at 01:54 PM
It seems as though the Baltimore County Council has made up their mind on this when their constituents have not.... How is that democratic? WE are the people who travel Reisterstown Road, WE are the people who haven't been heard, and WE are the people who WANT to be heard!
BrownGirl71 May 23, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I don't know much about how this state "works," but rubber-stamping is not appropriate in a situation where there is clearly a difference of opinion. The process should be allowed to play out, in the open.
Chuck Burton May 23, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Who would be hurt by the proposed Wegmans in Foundry Row? Safeway is nearby in Garrison Forest. They might well oppose, and they are a strong, national company. Giant has four markets in the corridor, including one nextdoor in St Thomas center, which would likely be hurt, and they are the leading company in the Baltimore market. Who is left? Food Lion, with two and Mars. None of these are very close, and tend to have their own customer base - shouldn't be much affected. Weis and Shoppers both gave up already. I've wondered if that newcomer to the market, Shop-Rite, might be interested in the former Shoppers place, adjoining Target. They might not want to compete with Wegmans, a mile away. So now we see who would want to oppose Wegmans: primarily Giant and Safeway. And Mr Brown, who doesn't (naturally) like the GG competition. And a handful of people who don't like any progress in their neighborhood.
Momofmany May 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I would suggest you go no further than finding out who the attorneys are representing this development project? Once you do you will find that this is "politics as usual" Baltimore County style.....There is no public voice it is a done deal in this democratic monarchy! Despite that we do need some retail and besides the traffic congestion just think of the crime that it will bring. Just spend some time at the mall or better yet go into the Wal-Mart and Sams.......not a revelation but just reality!
Chuck Burton May 23, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I don't know about Walmart or Sams - I'm not aware of significant crime there - but the Mall's problem is that it is hidden away, almost out of sight, out of mind; and so, as the early excitement faded, people just sort of forgot about it and the businesses began to fail, and it has become an easy mark for criminals to find victims alone and helpless without even witnesses to help police. When there are crowds around there is usually little violent crime. That''s one reason I suggested elsewhere that GG talk with JCP about relocating to the Foundry Row. I never seem attracted to Macys, but do occasionally shop at JCP, and would like it to be in a better location. As for politics, you have to understand that money is power, and politicians tend toward venality, and they listen most intensely to deep pockets, unless they think it will cost them votes.
Tracie May 23, 2012 at 05:17 PM
My question is why are we even rezoning the land? Has Baltimore County even tried to entice another manufacturing company? Or have they been waiting for Solo to close up shop because Wegmans already had its eye on the location? Didn't Wegmans try the "we will only go to XY location" argument before? Sounds like the same statement made about Timonium and they found another location close by....
Chuck Burton May 23, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Solo is GONE, along with most manufacturing along Reisterstown Rd, and it has become a defacto commercial artery. Wegmans wants to put a desireable, tax paying business in that location. Why not? Or do people want to see a bunch of empty and deteriorating buildings running the neighborhood down for years (or even an overgrown empty lot) while they dream of some imaginary new manufacturer putting a plant there? Wake up!
Marc Shapiro (Editor) May 23, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I did a story on that: http://reisterstown.patch.com/articles/wegmans-d-j-vu-debate
Calvin L.Reter May 23, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Lets go back in time. When Shoppco was going to build a Mall in Reisterstown located at Main Street- Westminster Pike and Northwest expressway the county said it would be to close to the Owings Mills Mall and opposed the Franklin Mall in favor of owings mills Mall Now the county is supporting six yes six shopping centers with in one mile of each other. If this is approved we will have a large slum area in OWINGS MILLS MARYLAND Calvin Reter
Buck Harmon May 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM
It's already showin signs of slum in several area's...
Chuck Burton May 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM
A good reason to bring in new development.
Buck Harmon May 24, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I agree with smart development that is well done....over development tends to get sloppy..
Norma Bosley May 25, 2012 at 04:36 AM
The mall needs to bring in businesses that we travel to Westminster for...Old Navy, Kohl's, Michael's, Lowes. If the right businesses were there, the shoppers would come. As for Wegman's, it won't hurt the other grocery chains. I find it way too big and overwhelming for routine grocery shopping and would stay with the familiar Giant and Safeway. But it is nice for lunch and for specific shopping needs.
nick allen May 25, 2012 at 08:26 PM
If traffic is the biggest concern at foundry row, I say let it come. Solo Cup is gone and we need to face the truth. There are few manufacturing jobs left and fewer people that want them. A Wegmans would be a boon to this area and given the mall developers business record, I can honestly see why they would not want to be associated with them.
kaylean williams May 30, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Traffic congestions is not what we need at the solo cup location. We have enough small stores at St. Thomas and Valley Center. More focus should be directed to the mall area for some end high end stores. Why do we have to go to Columbia and Towson for better stores. We have 2 big grocery stores already in the area. Wegmans would be welcome at different location in Owings Mills, but keep it off Reistwrtown Rd.
BCalvert May 30, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I recently joined the Say No to Solo coalition and they are very nice people and seem to truly be made up of community members. I find nothing sneaky about them. In fact, I am going to be at the june 7th hearing at Pikesville High with them. You should come too www.votenoonsolo.com/rsvp
Sher Katz June 23, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I don't understand why anyone is complaining about the Solo site being redeveloped when the Metro Centre is 6/10th of a mile from the Solo site and will use the exact same roads has already been approved AND the Metro Centre is going to be 75% LARGER than the Solo redevelopment. 2 + million square feet of space compared to 485,000 square feet of space.
Sher Katz June 23, 2012 at 01:40 PM
At least the pro-Solo mailers are forthcoming as to their backers. Can anyone say that about the say no to solo group? I received the anti-solo mailing-recycled it. And even though I'm on the Do Not Call List I received THREE phone calls from the anti-solo people. One pre-recorded and 2 "surveys" where the questions were skewed in favor of the anti-solo movement. Say No to Solo is looking for transparency? So why don't they reveal their financial backers, why don't they post their "public" IRS documents? Why are they not providing the up to date traffic studies-if I was able to find them it shouldn't be that hard for them? Kimco purchased their interest in the Mall 3 months after Greenberg Gibbons closed on the purchase of the Solo site and approx 5 months after they announced they would be looking at Wegmans, Whole Foods or Harris Tweeter to be their anchor store-so I don't understand what the REAL issue is.
BrownGirl71 June 24, 2012 at 11:38 PM
People are complaining because Metro Center and the OM Mall redevelopment project is already part of the County's Master Plan, for which tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have already been committed... Foundry Row was nowhere on the map at that time. The Master Plan should be seen to fruition and COMPLETION before any additional taxpayer dollars are committed to re-zone some other site less than a mile away. It also does not bode well that it appears that the re-zoning process has not been transparent and community input has not been given its due. Aside from the traffic headaches, I am greatly concerned about the recent MDE report that indicates there are environmental issues at the SOLO site that need attention... Seems like no one, except me, is worried about breaking up that ground which MDE says is contaminated. Let's just slow down and think seriously and responsibly about what is being proposed before final decisions and approvals are made.
Chuck Burton June 25, 2012 at 12:35 AM
And if there is contamination on the site, shouldn't SOLO be the one that pays for cleaning it up? They and their predecesors put it there, didn't they? As for a Master Plan, what kind of Master Plan is it that sees the Reisterstown Rd corridor as being good for nothing much but auto dealers and a handful of little shopping centers where many businesses without national or regional backing seldom last more than a few years. Are you afraid, Brown Girl and others, that the area can't absorb anything beyond Metro Centre, just because the Mall has essentially failed? Foundry Row should really complement Metro Centre, and even proper development at the Mall.
BrownGirl71 June 25, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Yes, Solo should clean up its mess. And no, I am not afraid of anything or anyone. I would just like to see the multi-million dollar commitments completed before the County binds taxpayers to the next project. Plain and simple.

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