Owings Mills Mall is closed.
Customers arriving Friday at the largely vacant mall — where the Macy's department store is shutting down in November — were surprised to learn that the mall's interior has closed.
"It looks like everything out there is closed up," said Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, who shopped at the Macy's on Friday. "You can't get to the mall from Macy's. The interior is closed. I didn't expect it, quite honestly."
A spokesman for mall owner Kimco Realty confirmed Friday afternoon that the mall's interior closed Thursday.
Only a handful of stores had remained in the interior, including Gymboree and Bath & Body Works, but nobody answered the phones at those stores.
David F. Bujnicki, the Kimco spokesman, said in an email that the New York-based real estate investment trust is evaluating "various redevelopment options for Owings Mills Mall, including several open-air shopping center concepts," but that no plan has been finalized.
"We are talking with a number of prospective tenants in order to best determine the appropriate site layout to complement the existing retail marketplace within this community," Bujnicki said. "Keep in mind that there is a lot of planning and time that goes into a project of this size and scope. We understand the need for updated information and will gladly provide more details … as soon as a decision has been made. We look forward to the opportunity to revitalize this site."
In addition to Macy's, the JC Penney department store and AMC Theater at the mall remain open, as do restaurants outside the mall such as Olive Garden and Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen.
A Macy's spokesman said Tuesday that the retailer has agreed to sell the store building to Kimco and close in November.
Opened by The Rouse Co. in 1986, Owings Mills Mall was one of the area's first regional malls and was once anchored by Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Boscov's and Sears. It has struggled with the loss of anchors, high vacancies and competition from newer malls and open-air shopping center formats.
Glenn R. Barnes, the manager of a Long & Foster in Reisterstown, said Friday that area residents were disappointed to see how the mall "faded over time."
"I had a gentleman connected with me on Facebook who said it was sentimental. He had gone in there since he was a child and wanted one last look," Barnes said. "He tried all the different doors. They were locked."
On Facebook, the organizer of a page called "Save Owings Mills Mall" posted an item titled "R.I.P" on Thursday.
"As of today, the doors to the mall have been sealed shut," it said. "The worst part of this was that this was done to absolutely no fanfare, farewell, or notification to the media."
The Evening Sun
Somebody on the Facebook page posted a photo of a sign on the mall door reading: "The interior mall is now closed. Please visit Macy's and JC Penney at their main store entrances fronting Mill Run Circle."
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has been in discussions with Kimco about moving ahead on the redevelopment, said spokeswoman Fronda Cohen.
In May, Baltimore County approved updated plans for Kimco's redevelopment in advance of a large annual retail conference, where firms often go to court tenants.
The plans show Kimco inverting the site, with parking on the inside and new big-box retail stores and restaurants of various sizes on the outside, ranging from about 6,000 square feet to nearly 70,000 square feet. One option included a 12-story office building of about 300,000 square feet. The movie theater would remain under the new plans.
In 2011, Kimco formed a partnership with General Growth Properties, which owned the mall at the time, to "de-mall" the property by demolishing it and building an outdoor town center similar to one in White Marsh. As of December, General Growth Properties owned 51 percent of the more than 1 million-square-foot mall, which was 34 percent leased at the time.