Eldersburg Commons project receives final approval

The Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the final site plan for Eldersburg Commons Wednesday, ending a years-long decline of the Carrolltown Center on Liberty Road.

Black Oak Associates, based in Owings-Mill, has proposed a $50 million plan to renovate the run down shopping mall into Eldersburg Commons, with a Walmart, restaurants and home, fashion and beauty retailers.

Dixon Harvey, president of Black Oak, said nearby residents can expect to see construction picking up at Carrolltown in coming months.

“We’ve worked long and hard to get to this point and we’re ready to start building Eldersburg Commons,” Harvey said in a statement released Thursday. “This project has already received strong interest from some of the country’s premier retailers and we’re very close to signing several new tenant agreements.”

Walmart is expected to be joined by more than a dozen new retailers and Harvey said these tenants could be announced by the end of the year.

The mall, built in the 1970s, currently contains 315,630 square feet of retail space, but the Black Oak plan calls five new buildings to join the Bank of America, Denny's and Wendy's, which will remain untouched.

In total there will be 293,856 square feet of retail space with Eldersburg Commons.

The interior of Carrolltown was closed in 2005 and currently Big Lots and Dollar General serve as the lone tenants. Dollar General will be closing later this month while Big Lots will remain open through the end of the year, Harvey said.

Negotiations are ongoing as to whether Big Lots will continue as a tenant, according to Harvey.

Eldersburg Commons is expected to open in the fall of 2014.

The planning commission approved the final site plan despite receiving a letter from the State Highway Administration Oct. 1 objecting to an entrance off Liberty Road into Eldersburg Commons.

SHA opposed an entrance into the shopping center, which would allow residents to only turn right into the complex and right out of the complex.

Harvey said the entrance was necessary to alleviate traffic at the four other gateways into the complex–two on Ridge Road and two on West Hemlock Drive.

Black Oak is expecting to meet with SHA to discuss approval of the Liberty Road entrance before the end of October, Harvey said.

Although the plan is moving forward, area residents are concerned with the potential traffic impact of Eldersburg Commons.

Harvey acknowledged the concerns raised by residents Wednesday and pointed out the concerns are different depending upon where people live in relation to the shopping center.

“We’re working to try and meet everybody’s needs as best as possible,” he said.

The redevelopment is expected to create 221 jobs during its construction phase and will permanently support more than 630 new jobs upon completion. It is also projected to generate positive tax-related fiscal impacts of approximately $540,000 in new revenues for Carroll County annually and $6 million for the next decade, according to Black Oak.

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