60,000 SF (square feet) is a significant number for the families that live and businesses that operate in Baltimore County’s District 4.
It’s the maximum size of any individual store showing on Kimco’s site plan for the redevelopment of its Owings Mills Mall property. That’s the site plan that is currently under review for approval by Baltimore County – a simple picture of which is included at the bottom of this article.
Legislation limiting the size of any store on the Mall property to 60,000 SF shouldn’t be a problem for the developer – because that’s the maximum size on its site plan. In fact, Kimco has been negotiating with Walmart corporate to open a huge Walmart Supercenter that would be three or more times larger than this 60,000 SF limit. And if a Supercenter does anchor Kimco’s “Owings Mills Town Center”? Well, if that happens, Walmart will close its Liberty Road Supercenter and Walmart on Reisterstown Road. And that’s not a good thing.
Don’t misunderstand. Kimco has every right to make a good profit on its investment. It just shouldn’t be allowed to make that profit by stealing stores and customers from established shopping centers nearby that have served their neighborhoods for years. There are other options Kimco could consider, some of them potentially even more profitable than the big box store strip center that is its current objective.
At best, anchoring its strip center with a new Walmart Supercenter will have no net impact on the District 4 economy. More likely, it will have a net negative impact on that economy by virtue of jobs and income lost when stores, large and small, close on Liberty and Reisterstown Roads. They’ll close because essential customer volume will be lost to Kimco’s new center – and because Walmart, when it closes its stores, will keep them empty to prevent competition. It’s an all too real strategy that the industry refers to as “Dark Stores,” the result of which is “Urban…” or, in this case, “Suburban Blight.” Once again, these are not good things.
And then there’s the net negative impact on County government finances if the costs of new infrastructure and ongoing services exceed area-wide increases in property tax collections, if any. Not only is Kimco making a profit at the expense of established commerce in the area, it’s expecting you, the taxpayer, to bear some of the costs.
“Hey. Business comes an goes. The topography of commerce is always changing. What are you going to do? That’s just the way it is.”
That’s a fair observation, but this isn’t about someone opening a new pizzeria down the road from one that’s been there for a while. This change in the economy is going to be very, very significant. Opening a new Walmart Supercenter and closing two stores nearby may make sense for Walmart corporate and Kimco, owner and developer of the Mall property, but its not the good kind of development. Quite to the contrary, it’s an example of the owner (Kimco) settling for an easy, all too familiar, unimaginative plan for a cookie-cutter strip center. Kimco can and should be encouraged to do better for the community its Mall development will serve.
In fact, it’s not all about jobs, income and “Dark Stores.” There’s more going on here than economic impact. Yes. There something much more going on here as explained in the following email from a District 4 resident. Her name is Jeanne and she’s real. We’re just leaving out her last name to protect her privacy.
Date: Aug 22, 2016 11:24:29 PM
Subject: RE: The Future of Owings Mills Mall Community Meetings
I am not sure I can attend any of the meetings but am extremely concerned about Randallstown. We have struggled for so long to achieve a real identity as a community. Many have worked to get the Y, Walmart and Home Depot. It is so encouraging to go there and run into so many friends and neighbors. This community has supported them all strongly. For so many years we were overlooked in favor of Owings Mills. Owings Mills Mall is a developerâ™s problem. Randallstown is a community. I feel strongly that we need to support our communities, especially the forgotten ones. We finally have a strong Liberty Road with the Royal Farms, Rehoboth taking over the old community building, the welcome into Randallstown corner, Home Depot, YMCA, Walmart and Ruby Tuesday. Please, please, donâ™t let them now destroy what we have fought so long and hard to build.
Notice Jeanne’s use of words like “identity,” “community,” “friends” and “neighbors.” These aren’t just stores and shopping centers to the residents of District 4. They’re focal points, the suburban version of a small town square, a neighborhood village of sorts, the vitality of which is essential to the community it serves. …It’s a point that Jeanne makes, but that Kimco doesn’t get. If it did, its design for the redevelopment of the Mall property would be very different, wouldn’t it? No less profitable, but more respectful of what the greater District 4 community needs.
This – what Jeanne is describing – is what we’re asking Councilman Jones to protect by legislating the 60,000 SF restriction on store size on just this one property.
Julian Jones is one of the good guys in local government. Our read on Councilman Jones is that he’s careful, but unafraid to offer the kind of leadership people need.
Introducing a bill to limit store size at the Owings Mills Town Center will be a moment and legislation that people will remember. It’s not often that a single Member of the Council can do something this simple that has such a significant impact on the quality of life for so many of the people he represents.
Please join us in encouraging Councilman Jones to introduce a bill limiting store size on the Mall property to 60,000 SF in accordance with Kimco’s current site plan. You can leave a comment below that we’ll see that Councilman Jones receives, you can sign our petition before you leave BaltimoreRising.org or you can email the Councilman at his office or call and tell him what you think. Here are his email address and telephone number.
District 4 Councilman Julian Jones
Email Address… Council4@BaltimoreCountyMD.gov
District Office Number… 410-887-0784
And you can attend Councilman Jones’ town meetings on Monday, August 29 at the Owings Mills Library, 6 to 8 PM, and/or on Wednesday, August 31 at the Randallstown Community Center, also 6 to 8 PM.
Thanks for helping to shape the future of your community.
P.S. In case you haven’t seen the current Kimco site plan for its Owings Mills Town Center, here, at the bottom of this post, is a picture of that plan that we took with an iPhone at the office of Permits, Approvals & Inspections. The original is a large engineer’s drawing. In fact, we had to put it on the floor and take the picture from as high as we could hold the phone in order to get the entire strip center into a single shot.
As you can see, a bill restricting store size to 60,000 SF for just this one property is in keeping with the most recent development plan that Kimco submitted more than a year ago and is currently under review for approval by the County.
If you blow up the picture on your screen, you can read the square footage numbers for each store. None of them exceeds 60,000 SF, so Kimco shouldn’t be concerned about the bill.
Of course, what we now know is that Kimco – even though County review of its current site plan is well along – is negotiating with Walmart corporate for a huge Supercenter that will require revisions to the current site plan – but not necessarily additional public discussion. If, for example, Kimco simply combines several of its larger stores into one giant space for the Supercenter – making almost the entire bottom segment of the site plan into a single store – it’s possible that no further hearings will be required.