The 25th Street Station shopping center project in Remington is moving forward with the original developer, after the property owner settled a lawsuit against the developer.
Bruce Mortimer, president of Anderson Automotive Group and owner of the property at 25th and Howard streets, originally planned to sell the 11-acre site to WV Urban Development, a team headed by developer Rick Walker. But Mortimer reneged over a legal dispute involving plans for a Walmart, and announced earlier this year he would sell the site to Seawall Development Corp.
Judith Kunst, president of the Greater Remington Improvement Association, said Aug. 20 that Mortimer and Walker had settled the suit and that her understanding was that Walker would proceed with the project.
Evan Morville, a partner in Seawall, confirmed that and said Seawall is no longer “in the picture” for that property.
“They’ve agreed to whatever differences they had and we’re not going to stand in the way of that,” Morville said.
Seawall still plans to develop separate projects on Remington Avenue between 27th and 29th streets, including on three properties that Mortimer also owns, Morville said.
“In the end, nobody wanted to have to deal with a long, drawn-out lawsuit,” said Morville, adding that he was involved in negotiations to settle the lawsuit. “The goal is to make Remington, Charles Village and Old Goucher better places,” he said.
“It has been a long, ongoing battle. I just want peace to reign in Remington,” Kunst said. And City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said, “If that’s what’s been agreed to, then everybody wins. I’d like to see something get started there. And I know the Seawall people have several other projects they’re developing.”
“I have guarded optimism,” said Councilman Carl Stokes, who represents the immediate area round the site. “I and the community want to see a good, strong development,” with local businesses, “not just big boxes.”
Mortimer and his attorney, David Gildea, could not be reached for comment. Jon Laria, a local attorney who represents Walker, would not comment on the settlement, but said in an email, “Walmart definitely remains part of the project plan, and we truly appreciate their sustained commitment through a few twists and turns.”
Laria said the Walker team will submit updated drawings to Baltimore City and neighborhood associations, as required by the city for a planned unit development.
Mortimer’s legal complaint against WV Urban Development stated that Walker missed a Sept. 30, 2012, deadline to complete a purchase agreement with Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust, in which Wal-Mart would commit to purchasing a portion of properties on the site. The lawsuit asked a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to rule that the termination of the sale was legal, so that Mortimer wouldn’t have a clouded title.
At least one area resident said he would be unhappy if the project proceeds as planned.
“If it’s continuing, then our questions and issues continue,” said Benn Ray, Hampden Village Merchants Association president.