Thursday, November 24, 2011

Metro Center at Owings Mills - Finally Underway?

I noticed a large crane in the western parking lot of the Owings Mills Metro Center. Could it be? Would the acres of broken promises for redevelopment finally be under way? We moved to the area in 1999 and we were told then that it was going to get started real soon. As the French narrator says on Sponge Bob Square Pants, "Twelve years later...."

The Metro Center at Owings Mills has been touted by several Baltimore County Executives as the key to revitalization and economic growth for northwest Baltimore County. I'm pretty sure Dutch Ruppersburger was all excited about it in the late 90's. Jim Smith in the 2000's. Now Kevin Kamenetz is hoping to put this on his resume' for his future run for Governor. This was the project that was going to bring hundreds of temporary migrant construction jobs held by Hispanics, and later dozens of of permanent entry-level service jobs for everyone else.

So what is going to be constructed on this site? I have heard hopes of an Owings Mills library branch, an Owings Mills education center of the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, some mixed use office space, a hotel, 4 more parking garages, and more residential housing.

I totally agree with the library. I think the closest library is on Liberty Road. Trust me, that's a scary part of town. It would be great to have a new library in this location with all the modern amenities. The education center is a good idea, as well. Currently they occury an old building at the corner of Painter's Mill Road and Dolfield Road. Residential housing? As my kids said about the houses built at the mall, "Who would want to live at the mall?" I now ask, "Who would want to live in the middle of a mixed-use office, retail, and education complex attached to the Baltimore Metro Subway system? Maybe some people do. I sure don't.

Another hotel? Aren't there 3 hotels in Owings Mills already? Perhaps there's a need for another one. More mixed office space? T. Rowe Price just built 2 buildings a couple of years ago that sit vacant. There are the four buildings of the Owings Mills Corporate Center. There are a lot of buildings dotting Red Run Boulevard. And to think that Baltimore City can't fill any of the buildings downtown. Can you say over-inflated urban property taxes?

So, like the other major projects in various stages of planning and development in Owings Mills, will this one be done as planned, or will it be scaled down and delayed and disappoint everyone? What do you think?

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