Wegmans Food Markets will build its second Baltimore County store at the site of the Solo Cup property in Owings Mills, anchoring an upscale development that's set to replace the old manufacturing site.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Monday that developer Greenberg Gibbons Commercial had signed a lease with the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocery company. The store will be the centerpiece of a retail center called Foundry Row.
Greenberg Gibbons also owns Hunt Valley Town Centre, where Wegmans opened its first Maryland store in 2005.
"It's a terrific anchor because it's affordable, it's got a tremendous feel, it's got great service," said Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of Greenberg Gibbons. "Other upscale retailers want to locate with them, like what happened in Hunt Valley."
Wegmans is known for its variety of gourmet, standard and prepared foods and has four stores in Maryland. The 125,000-square-foot Owings Mills location will employ 600 people, Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said, adding that the construction schedule and opening date haven't been set.
Greenberg Gibbons and Vanguard Equities announced in September that they had bought the 52-acre Solo Cup site.
Developers hope to start demolition in the late spring, Gibbons said. Construction of Foundry Row would start in the spring of 2013.
The 400,000-square-foot development will feature "an industrial theme of architecture" and include small restaurants, shops and several other anchors, including a fitness center, Gibbons said.
The Wegmans deal comes on the heels of an announcement last week that General Growth Properties and Kimco Realty had formed a joint venture to redevelop the struggling Owings Mills Mall, which is less than two miles from the Solo Cup site. The mall is set to be demolished in 2013 and replaced with a $65 million retail development.
Also nearby is the Metro Center, a project that broke ground this year and will feature the county's largest library and a community college center, as well as retail and residential development.
"Attracting this premier chain [Wegmans] is part of our larger strategy to redevelop not only the Solo site, but the Owings Mills Mall and the Metro Center project as well," Kamenetz said in a statement.
County Councilwoman Vicki Almond called Wegmans' plans "huge for the area," especially in light of the other developments for Owings Mills.
"All of it together is really going to give Owings Mills an identity and a character of its own, which is something we have not had," said Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat.
She hopes the store will attract other upscale retailers.
"I think healthy competition is good, so I think it will help bring up the standards for the rest of Reisterstown Road," Almond said.
Wegmans will offer shoppers something "out of the ordinary," she said.
"It's a destination," she said. "It's a very different kind of place. People really do love it."
George Harman, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council, said residents are hopeful about the development set for Owings Mills, but also want county officials to consider concerns such as traffic and the effect that large shopping centers will have on locally owned businesses along Reisterstown Road.
"There's no doubt that it is all good," he said of the recent announcements. "I just hope that it's coordinated."
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