As a $20 million upgrade to the Shops at Kenilworth kicks into high gear, the mall owner has told members of the center's small seasonal farmers' market they may need to move.
Owings Mills developer Greenberg Gibbons warned merchants of the potential conflict toward the end of last year. President Thomas M. Fitzpatrick said the firm still is looking for solutions and hopes to be able to continue to host the market — if not this season, then in future ones.
"We've always been very supportive of the farmers' market, but we have to do … what's right from a safety standpoint," he said. "We're in the process of trying to resolve all that."
Greenberg Gibbons took over Kenilworth around 2015, pledging to update the building, fill vacancies and shake up the tenant mix.
At the time, CEO Brian J. Gibbons said he was drawn to the 142,000-square-foot property for its convenience and planned to retain the family-friendly vibe of its traditions, such as its holiday train garden.
The firm added a new entrance last year. Work on the exterior and interior — the installation of new floors, handrails and stairs — is expected to be complete by September, Fitzpatrick said.
The firm also announced a slew of new stores, including a liquor store, yoga studio and Trader Joe's, which is relocating from its location at Towson Circle, which is to be redeveloped. The new Trader Joe's is slated to open March 31, a spokeswoman said.
The mall has hosted the seasonal Tuesday afternoon farmers market, which has about a dozen vendors, for eight years.
Cindy Yingling, market manager and the owner of Glenville Hollow Farms, said she was surprised when told the market would have to relocate. Mall management initially cited the impending arrival of Trader Joe's as the reason, she said.
The Maryland Farmer's Market Association and others, quickly interceded on the merchants' behalf, contacting Greenberg Gibbons and the California grocer to try to work out a compromise.
A spokeswoman for Trader Joe's said the business does not object to the farmers' market.
"Upon receiving an inquiry from one of our customers regarding the relocation, we immediately reached out to our landlord to clarify that we would welcome the return of the Farmers Market to the Center," the spokeswoman, Alison Mochizuki, wrote in an email.
Fitzpatrick said concerns remain about how to balance the renovation with the additional customers Trader Joe's is expected to draw. He said the firm has not met face-to-face with farmers' market merchants since before the holidays, but wants to continue to host them.
"It's complicated," he said.
Yingling said the merchants are looking for a new location, worried there won't be resolution before April, when they plan to reopen.
"We can't just sit around and wait for you to tell us, 'You definitely have no place to go,'" she said.
Criselle Anderson, 35, of Lutherville, is a regular patron of the market. She said she would miss the current location, which had ample parking and afternoon hours, making it easy to zip in and out.
"It's a real shame," she said.