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Foundry Row’s developers make their case

Standing on the production floor of the former Solo Cup plant Tuesday, an Owings Mills developer declared his plans to convert the 52-acre site into a retail focal point using upscale grocer Wegmans as the anchor.

Greenberg Gibbons CEO Brian Gibbons

But first, Greenberg Gibbons CEO Brian Gibbons said, he must get a key zoning change from the Baltimore County Council.

“We have tremendous community support,” Gibbons said of the process that will be included Thursday in a county planning meeting at Pikesville High School at 7 p.m. “We deserve to have a project of this quality to serve as the gateway to Owings Mills.”

Greenberg’s pitch was the latest in a series of publicity events surrounding three mega developments now underway in Owings Mills.

Last week, developer Kimco held a briefing on its plans for a $65 million redevelopment of the Owings Mills Mall, while developer Howard Brown monitors his residential and retail stake in the $500 million Metro Centre development.

Gibbons’ remarks included unveiling plans of the $140 million development to be called Foundry Row and an economic study for the project prepared by local economist Anirban Basu, CEO of Sage Policy Group.

Basu’s report found that the $140 million Foundry Row project will support 3,100 Baltimore County-based jobs and generate tax-related revenues of $2.7 million the county. The project would be built at the former Solo Cup site.

“The mixed-use development fits into what the community is and needs to be,” Basu said of the plans to demolish the outdated plant and replace it with a town square-like retail and office complex.

“Turning the vacant Solo Cup factory into Foundry Row is a game-changer for Owings Mills.”

Wegmans would occupy 130,000 square feet of the total 385,000-square-foot development, Gibbons said.

“I promise you we will get it right,” Gibbons said. “This is a watershed moment for Baltimore County. You get one shot at Wegmans. We’ve got a signed lease.”

Gibbons said a traffic study is underway and that the developers would pay “several million dollars” toward upgrades and expansions to roads surrounding the site, including “adding a new road off of Painters Mill Road” to serve as a service road for the new shopping center. The company has also developed the Hunt Valley Towne Centre and the Annapolis Towne Centre.

“We are confident that we’ll have a better traffic situation than what exists here,” Gibbons said.

Brown, though, said he remains critical of the proposed project. He said Tuesday the plans will conflict with his Metro Centre development and the redevelopment of the mall and will “over-saturate” the area with retail.

“The market cannot absorb all of this retail,” he said. “There is no more residential coming in to support all of this. The whole thing has become a campaign of deception.”

Brown said he plans to challenge the Foundry Row development in upcoming zoning hearings in Towson. He called Basu’s report “very deceptive.”

Second District Councilwoman Vicki Almond, also chairwoman of the Baltimore County Council, said the vote to rezone the industrial site for commercial use is expected to be held this summer.

Almond said traffic along Reisterstown and Painters Mills roads is a concern, but she said she is confident the details will be addressed by the developers.

“These are very smart people involved in developments and they can figure out the issues,” Almond said. “Something will be built here. I really do believe in my heart of hearts that this is a good thing.”