Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dear Grocers, HELP!

The title of this post may come off as a desperate plea. Well, it is! Grocery Stores may be the savoir needed for Baltimore in many ways. I'm not just talking about eradicating food deserts, which is the number one reason that Grocery Stores are needed. Another reason the City is in need of Grocery Stores is because I believe that they are the first step in reinvesting and redeveloping food desert Neighborhoods. When looking for a Neighborhood to invest and develop in, why not chose one that has a brand new full service Grocery Store being built in it?

The Greater Howard Park, Waverly, Canton, Locust Point, and Mondawmin areas have all recently gained brand new Grocers. Pigtown and Hampden have recently had vacant Grocery Stores back-filled with new tenants as well. In addition, many of the now defunct "Stop Shop & Save" stores have been back-filled by "Save A Lot." These stores however, are too small to be competitive with Grocery Stores today. What follows is a plan not only to bring new Grocers into food deserts, but it will also contain redevelopment for the areas surrounding it to have a ripple effect of new activity in the Communities at large.
Most of the Communities I'm crying out for help in are Neighborhoods that may seem forgotten. This is because they're not in a crisis with crime, drugs, and vacants but they also aren't premier destination Neighborhoods nor are they up & coming either. These Neighborhoods have slowly seen middle class flight, rise in negligent land lords, loss of Retail, and loss of new investment. That's why there's a Residential redevelopment component to go near the new Grocery Stores. These Neighborhoods for the most part aren't doom and gloom either. However, if intervention doesn't happen soon, they may be headed that way.

First we come to the Alameda Marketplace. This is is actually a relatively healthy Shopping Center in North Baltimore that has a small Shoppers. This Shoppers back-filled an old Stop Shape & Save that's a fraction of the size of a modern full service Grocer. I would build a brand new 55,000 Square Foot Shoppers at the southwestern corner of The Alameda and Belvedere Avenue with a new Planet Fitness and Exxon spanning and backing the Belvedere Avenue side of the Center. Yorkewood Apartments will be redeveloped in the process. A new Retail strip will be built across from the new Shoppers backing to Chinquapin Parkway. All existing Buildings in the Center will be torn down.

The next Center is located further east on Belvedere Avenue just past Good Sam Hospital. Just above Belvedere's intersection with Hillen Road. This Shopping Center is almost completely vacant and judging by the age and condition of it, trying to back-fill tenants would prove futile. That's why I would tear down and redevelop the entire Center and anchor it with a brand new 60,000 square foot Giant. On either side of the Giant, there would be new Retail space as well as two pad sites at the entrance to the Center. I would also redevelop the old Hillen & Belvedere Apartments as well as the Park-Raven Apartments to put a whole new face on this Neighborhood and better connect it to Good Sam Hospital to make the Center more accessible for visitors and staff alike.

The next Center is Edmondson Village. Although the adjacent Edmondson Square has a Giant in it, we're going to put the two Centers together for the purpose of this redevelopment. At the Center of Edmondson Village is where I would put the new 60,000 square foot Giant. Behind Edmondson Village there is ample land to expand which Edmondson Square does not have. On either side of the Giant, there will be no Retail which will consist of existing tenants. Another row of Retail will go in Edmondson Square facing Edmondson Avenue once the existing Giant is demolished. There will be no Residential redevelopment component seeing as the new Uplands development across the street has that market cornered.

Next we come to Erdman Shopping Center. This Center is located in the far east of the City in Belair Edison at the intersections of Edison Highway, Erdman Avenue, and Sinclair Lane. Most of this Center appears to have been redone recently and remains well leased. However, when taking a look at the Save A Lot that supposedly anchors this Center, you will see it's dated and a fraction of the size of a modern day Grocery Store. Fortunately, this a large plat of land on the opposite side of this Center that should be large to fit a brand new 55,000 square foot Save A Lot. The Herring Run Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library does get in the way of this which is why it will get a brand new building where the current Save A Lot sits. The pad site that sits at the western entrance to this Center will be redeveloped as Residential/Retail mixed use as well.
Our next stop is the one place that doesn't have a vacant or undersized Grocer space in it. In fact, this site is almost entirely Residential. I'm speaking of course about the Madison Park North Apartments aka Murder Mall. This property has been on the City's wrecking block for years due to the crime, blight, and lack of maintenance from its slumlords. In my last post, I suggested redeveloping the eastern end of the property with a brand new 50,000 square foot Grocery Store since the area is in a food desert. I'm rehashing that idea now as well as extending Reservoir Hill Park and building row homes on the western edge of the property.
This next stop on tour of potential Grocery Store sites is Old Town Mall. This area is a grave food desert but unfortunately I don't see a Grocer coming to this area for a while. In other areas of this post, I have given examples of how a new Grocery Store will spur redevelopment throughout the surrounding Communities. In this case, I believe the opposite to be true. I believe that additional redevelopment throughout the surrounding Community FIRST will lure a Grocery Store in. This area has seen severe population loss and the redevelopment that has occurred has been much lower density i.e. replacing public housing high rises with town home Communities.
Never the less, I'm master planning a site just east of Old Town Mall for when outside bring new development to the area. This includes the demolition of the JFX, the re-opening of Gay St, from Orleans St. to Broadway, the redevelopment of the "Edison Properties" as well as the redevelopment of Somerset Homes. The site on proposing sits on the "Forest St. Apartments" which would most likely not survive the redevelopment of the surrounding area. The new 60,000 square foot Shop Rite would have Orleans St. frontage and the site will include a Retail pad site located behind the Shop Rite. Depending on the density of surrounding developments, this Shop Rite might be the ground floor of mixed use building.

Finally, we come to the defunct Parklane Center that's located in the Park Heights Neighborhood along Coldspring Lane in between its intersections with Reisterstown Road and Park Heights Avenue. There is currently a Save A Lot located on the south side of  Coldspring Lane with other buildings surrounding it including a Rite Aid. I would tear down this entire block and build a brand new Rite Aid and Cameron's Seafood Market along Reisterstown Road. I would build a brand new 57,000 square foot Save A Lot on the site of the current one and the freed up land from demolishing the existing Rite Aid and Cameron's. The existing buildings facing Park Heights Avenue would then be rehabbed.
All of the areas I've described are Food Deserts. That is why I'm proposing putting new Grocery Stores in these specific areas. These areas are also lacking substantial investment and if intervention doesn't come soon, the decline will be very severe. That is why a Grocery Store represents in this post, a commitment to the Neighborhoods they serve and also why the immediate areas surrounding these Grocery Stores would undergo redevelopment as a symbol of more to come. But we need that initial commitment from Grocers. So join me in collectively insisting that Grocers HELP! Baltimore City.