Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Carrolltown Center OUT - Eldersburg Commons IN

Well, now we know.  Unless you've been hiding under Martin O'Malley's rain tax, you know that Carrolltown Center will be razed and rebuilt with a Super Wal-Mart as the anchor.  The name of the shopping center will be called Eldersburg Commons.

Last night County Councilman Doug Howard held a Town Hall Meeting at the newly built Sykesville Freedom Fire Hall.  There was a lot of talk about the county budget, the rain tax, the county sheriff, the library, the Veterans' Association, and the fire department.  But more on that later.

Carroll County Commissioner Doug Howard.  Photo Courtesy of mdduckman
Black Oak Associates partner Dixon Harvey and property manager Ray Keil joined several hundred Eldersburg and Sykesville residents for this town hall meeting, easily the largest meeting seen in South Carroll since the court trial when old man Jenkins got caught with Estelle in his jalopy.

Black Oak partner Dixon Harvey.  Photo courtesy of mdduckman
Mr. Harvey unveiled his plans for a new $50 million shopping destination that, as I mentioned, will be anchored by Super Wal-Mart, with approximately 20 surrounding stores.  Negotiations are on-going for the other stores, but it appears that they may be in the order of a Bed, Bath, & Beyond, a clothing store such as Ross, a beauty store, a vision eye care center, several restaurants, including an Italian restaurant and a Mexican restaurant, probably something similar to a Chipotle or a California Tortilla.

photo courtesy of mdduckman
The obvious first observation is - there's already a Wal-Mart, why do we need a Super Wal-Mart?  But as Dixon Harvey explained it, without Super Wal-Mart, this project doesn't happen.  He emphasized that they did reach out to Target several times, and even flew to Minneapolis to meet with them trying to get them to come to Eldersburg.  But, alas, Target doesn't seem to be interested in Eldersburg.  As I thought about it, I realized that this is not Dixon's fault.  If no other anchor's want to come to Eldersburg, what is he supposed to do?  Hold out for another 12 years? Is that what we really want?  It's not what I want.

photo courtesy of mdduckman
Furthermore, the second obvious question is, "What is going to happen to the old Wal-Mart?"  Mr. Harvey said that he can't speak for Wal-Mart, but he would assume that another or several mid-sized retailers would fill the spot, retailers such as an arts and crafts store (read Michael's) or an electronics store (H.H. Gregg?).  He said that he asked about purchasing the property from Wal-Mart, but they declined.  Perhaps Wal-Mart will hold onto it to make it a Sam's Club?  I honestly think that's too much saturation of similar shopping experiences for both to survive in a town the size of Eldersburg.  We're Eldersburg, not Bel Air or Columbia.

photo courtesy of mdduckman
As you can imagine, there was a lot of hostility in the crowd.  "Why aren't you building a Target?"  He already stated that they weren't interested.  One woman crowed that the old Carrolltown Center was a great place for her kids to go hang out.  What does this new shopping center have for them?  Mr. Harvey politely responded that this is a shopping center.  And I agree with him.  Why is he obligated to build a playground for our children?  He owns retail spaces.  He's not the benevolent overseer of our children.  He's no more responsible for building a place for our children to hang out than McDonald's, Radio Shack, or Bank of America would be.

Some people were asking for the old Wal-Mart to be razed and turned into a park.  As I mentioned, Wal-Mart owns the property.  What do you think the chances are that Wal-Mart will 'give' the land to Carroll County?  You know Carroll County won't be able to buy it. The budget is already tight.

There were a lot of people that were getting angry at this development. 'We moved here because it was a small town.  We don't want all this development.  If you want all of those things move to Columbia!'  I agree with them, but you have to be realistic.  Whether you like it or not, the Baltimore suburbs are expanding, because no one wants to live in a city that murders nearly 300 people per year and the schools are worse than the prisons.  Baltimore County is now doing a pretty darn good impression of the city.  Lots of people are calling Eldersburg home and commuting to D.C., Baltimore, and areas in between.  It's obvious that Eldersburg will grow with it.

Another resident got up and asked what is going to happen to all of the existing wonderful shops.  Seriously?  That's why the mall is considered a dead mall.  Any mall that has a church, a fitness room, any dollar store, and a batting cage is a dead mall.  Those stores knew what they were getting into.  Mr. Dixon did not hide any truth from them.  They were on short-term month-to-month leases.  I wish them the very best, but they do not belong in a new revitalized shopping district.  Perhaps they could move to the Liberty Exchange.  I hear there is a lot of dead space there.

The meeting then got really interesting when some of the old timers started asking if there was going to be a bus line from Randallstown.  Something was said about 'keeping those people from crossing the bridge'.  Yikes!  Felt like I was in a meeting in Mississippi in 1952.  I harp on providing stores that cater to people that the meet the local demographics, and I certainly make fun of Randallstown, but I don't say that publicly in a meeting when 200 plus people are looking at me.

So that's the meeting in a nutshell

What are your thoughts given the 'facts'?


Brian said...

WalMart knows how to play the game...hence it being a billion dollar business. The same situation is playing out up here in Frederick, with the Golden Mile being a strip of run down malls/shopping centers. The best things about the Golden Mile right now are some of the restaurants we have.

Sad to hear that race became part of the discussion though.

Drew Morgan aka Brewtime said...

At first I was not happy with the proposed Super-Walmart. I I think about it its better than a run down eye sore that is currently there. I do worry about traffic concerns on Liberty road. I live in Carrolltowne and the traffic can be dice when turning onto 26 from Bonnie Brae Dr. That get me to wonder when will they connect the McBeth's That could ease traffic on 26.

Eludius said...

Drew - is there a plan to connect the two MacBeths? I thought whomever was in charge of that decided not to connect it to prevent drivers from using it as a bypass. Basically not connecting the two was an intentional traffic and speed control decision, not a matter of getting around to it. Let me know if you know otherwise.

Wheat said...

I find it amusing you decide to take 3 words out of the context in which they were spoken - including that I was sure the MSP Commander could certainly supply the statistics for similar situations. Interesting you find it acceptable to think about crime concerns, but could not believe an honest concern about the spread of crime into such a vulnerable area (school, library, private homes) After all, did they not say they wanted to attract "those not working during the day so they would come..." I suspect those who heard in context understood my concern instead of those who will only read your deliberate choice to demonize honest concern about the safety of friends and those who will first endure an expect 15 to 18 months of construction, followed all sorts of quality of life issues into the entire future.

AJ said...

What a huge mistake. Has anyone been to the Wal-mart there is now? Crime is already increasing. When you put in stores like that you attract a certain clientele to the area. Eldersburg is definitely changing for the worst.

Who links to my website?
Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites