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Memo: Foundry Row Improvements Could Solve Traffic Woes

A study of the roads around the Solo Cup plant funded by Foundry Row developer Greenberg Gibbons shows that traffic will not worsen, and could improve, with full development of Foundry Row.

A study funded by 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 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 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.”

Opposition Remains

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, 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.

Buck Harmon July 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Nice job with this one Marc..
Chuck Burton July 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
This plan seems to be fairly well thought out. There is one possible problem I notice: traffic coming into and leaving Wegmans (the large building next to Painters Mill?) via the back road (and it will be substantial) is funneled through a parking lot where it will conflict with vehicles pulling into and out of spaces. It might be best to eliminate those spaces and just have a road there. Similarly, the access road from Reisterstown Rd should continue across, giving access to all parking lanes in front of Wegmans. It is also shown funneling into a parking lane. Access and, especially, egress from the other stores to Reisterstown Rd is very poor unless that blockage is eliminated facing the RR traffic light. Also, with 5 traffic lights between Reisterstown Rd and S. Dolfield (including those) there might be a timing problem.
david gordon July 18, 2012 at 02:55 PM
If Foundry Row traffic is based on a 40 to 50 ft road next to and on the Reisterstown Rd side of the railroad from Painters Mill Rd to Greenspring Valley Rd or Tobin's La to bypass Reisterstown Rd it would relieve some of the congestion on Reisterstown Rd. However I don't know the economics of the bypass. Also the extension of Dolfield Rd through to Music Fair Rd and under the railroad to Greenspring Valley or Tobin's would further help. D Gordon Pikesville
Maryland July 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM
The Traffic Group also did the traffic study for Metro Centre, so it's a little hypocritical for Howard to try to undermine their expertise here.  www.trafficgroup.com/projects/OwingsMills.pdf
Stewart Richardson July 18, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Let's just let the Wegmans application proceed. Would Wegmans build if there was definitely going to be complete gridlock? Of course not. If it was jammed all the time, nobody would go there after the initial buzz was over, it would go out of business, and their team would lose $140 million (or a lot of that). It may come as a surprise to the anti-Solo people that developers don't intentionally build complex projects with high chances of losing tens of millions of dollars (due to the alleged traffic nightmares). The county review process which development projects go through is designed to ensure adequate traffic flow. Let it govern as it should. Everyone can testify their opinions and all evidence will be reviewed. Whatever the verdict is will be fine with me-- at least it will be thoroughly analyzed-- not just based on opinions.
Marc Shapiro (Editor) July 18, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Stewart makes a good point that traffic issues will be evaluated by county officials during the development process, which would happen after the site was granted retail zoning.
Chuck Burton July 18, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Actually, checking Google Map, there looks to be room to extend this route to Mt Wilson La., or, if the county could get funding to bridge the beltway, it could go to Old Court Rd. It's not clear if 1 or 2 houses might be in the way.
Pamela F July 18, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Alright now the study has been done, stop all the griping and whining and let Owings Mills progress and become a beautiful and viable downtown! I have been to the Wegman's in Columbia and they did a wonderful job in controlling the traffic there--all three projects will contribute to a wonderful new downtown area and not the eyesore that was Solo Cup Co. It would be great to see builders working along with all of the other workers it will reguire to get these projects completed. People working, a beautiful downtown, and more shopping choices--it's a win-win WIN!!!!!!!!!
Marc Shapiro (Editor) July 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Thanks Buck. I think it's important to present a balanced outlook of this debate, with all sides represented.
Sher Katz July 19, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Did anyone else see the young people at the intersection of OM Blvd and Reisterstown Road in front of Safeway yesterday with the Say No To Solo signs handing out water to passing motorists? 106 degrees and they have these kids standing out there. It's becoming more and more obvious that the Say No to Solo Coalition cares more about their "cause" than people. Felt really sorry for those kids. And what were their parents thinking letting them do that? I wouldn't let my teenage kids stand out there in that heat!
Shirley Supik July 24, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Why would anyone want to go forward on a project without all the facts first? Let the Governor have his traffic study, Senator Zircon and the General Assembly have their traffic study and then make a decision on Foundry Row. There must be a reason Mr. Gibbons will NOT release the entire traffic study. To vote yes on the rezoning without knowing everything is negligent. That intersection is already classified as failing by SHA, so if Foundry Row goes in, and that intersection completely fails, SHA will step in anf fix it and because it is a state road, all taxpayers in Maryland will pay. If you widen that intersection only, when the road narrows further down Reisterstown Road, you will have a bottleneck. There are already times now when that happens. As far as the traffic a mfg. site would bring, if they spaced out their shift changes, they could manage the amount of traffic flow. We need to quit looking at the glitz and glamour and really start looking at the facts.
Chuck Burton July 24, 2012 at 06:15 PM
This is in reply to Shirley Supik. You are correct that fixing Reisterstown Rd in one location will simply result in bottlenecks elsewhere, but at least the one location will be improved. The problem is that the road is the only through, local road from the city to the northwest suburbs, and really needs at least 4 lanes each way to handle the traffic, especially at rush hours, but it only has 2. Providing the needed lanes would mean relocating hundreds of homes and businesses. It will likely never be done. As I pointed out in a previous comment, I have serious questions about the traffic flow within the Foundry Row complex. As for keeping the Solo site for manufacturing, that is nearly impossible - it is not a good location, as shown by the manufacturing companies that have already moved out of the area. And if it happened, it would create a good many temporary construction jobs, but probably only a relative handful of permanent jobs because of automation. Foundry Row will create far more jobs, in the long run (lower paid, to be sure, but more of them), and Wegmans is rated as one of the best employers in the country.
Sher Katz July 24, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Why is it okay for the Metro Centre to proceed then? They would be using the same roads. Metro Centre's project is in excess of 2 million square feet of space(CCBC, the library, restaurants, stores, shops, office space, apartments, 250 room hotel, etc) while Foundry Row is about 400,000. That makes the Metro Centre 80% larger than Foundry Row. Metro Centre is on a smaller piece of property and has less road access than Foundry Row. As far as Kimco is concerned, they purchased 50% of the mall months after Greenberg Gibbons announced plans to redevelop the solo site. They are the largest developer of commercial property in North America. Why would they invest the money if they weren't going to do anything. They also own the property that Franks Crafts used to sit on at the corner of Reisterstown Road and Tollgate-which is falling down around itself and is an eyesore. The other owner of the mall, General Growth Properties also owns Harborplace and the Gallery at the Inner Harbor. It feels as if Kimco and General Growth don't really care about Owings Mills, at least Greenberg Gibbons and Vanguard Equities are willing to invest in our area and actual DO the development, not just talk about it.
Chuck Burton July 24, 2012 at 08:45 PM
OOps, 2 million sq.ft. would be 5 times as large, or 400% more. So why is Mr. Brown worried about Foundry Row? It's small potatos by comparison, and has an entirely different focus. I want to see both projects succeed. As for the Mall, I could hardly care less - out of sight, out of mind.

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