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Walmart to anchor shopping center despite Lowe's pullout

Walmart still plans to anchor the 25th Street Station shopping center in Remingrton, even after Lowe's announced it is backing out of the project as a co-anchor.

"I received personal confirmation from Walmart last night that it was coming," Judith Kunst, president of the Greater Remington Improvement Association, said Tuesday.

Kunst said she received an e-mail Monday night from a Walmart representative, assuring her that the company still plans to build a store at 25th and Howard streets, on the border of Charles Village.

"To get a personal confirmation from Walmart, I'm very pleased," she said.

And despite the departure of Lowe's, a nationwide chain of big box home improvement stores, Kunst said she is confident that the center is still viable.

"We're still going to get over 700 jobs," said Kunst, who has worked closely with center developers and other area community leaders to shape the project and address traffic concerns.

She is not angry at Lowe's for pulling out, because Lowe's announced it is closing 20 stores around the country.

"Lowe's is cutting back. It's no reflection on our community."

Douglas Armstrong, of Remngton's other community association, the Remington Neighborhood Alliance, would not comment on Lowe's pullout, saying he had just heard about it.

"It's a campaign issue, but I'd like to know more about it," said Armstrong, who has been critical of the project and its potential effect on neighborhood traffic.

Armstrong is a Green Party candidate running against Mary Pat Clarke for City Council in District 14. He is also a co-plaintiff with Hampden resident Allen Hicks \in a lawsuit challenging the City Council's approval last year of the project as a planned unit development.

Reaction from supporters of the shopping center was mostly angry and concerned.

"I am disappointed," said City Councilman Carl Stokes. He said said Lowe's leaving jeopardizes "an opportunity for some economic growth in the city."

"Hopefully, if the project is going to go forward, we can find an entity as responsible as Lowe's," Stokes said.

"That's devastating," said Clarke. "They were a major anchor. They were putting up investment money for the center. They were always projected as the major investor west of Howard Street."

Clarke has questioned traffic repercussions and fought unsuccessfully for a bill to require big-box stores in the city to pay employees "living wages."

But she said, "I for sone have always supported the center. I hope we can find another box store. It's not the end (for the development), but it's an unfortunate end to Chapter 1."

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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