Greenberg Gibbons interested in purchasing Owings Mills Mall site

The company redeveloping the former Solo Cup site in Owings Mills has made overtures to the owners of the Owings Mills Mall about purchasing that property, its CEO said Thursday.

Leaders of Greenberg Gibbons, which is preparing to tear down the old Solo Cup plant to build the Foundry Row retail center on Reisterstown Road, "are big believers in the Owings Mills market and would love to do Foundry Row and the mall," chairman and CEO Brian Gibbons said.

"We've reached out" to the mall owners, said Gibbons, whose company is based in Owings Mills. "They are aware of our interest."

After a heated battle, Gibbons' firm last week got retail zoning approval for Foundry Row, which would feature a Wegmans supermarket. Developers of nearby projects in Owings Mills — including the mall and the Metro Centre — opposed the rezoning.

The mall has suffered from high vacancy for years. Kimco Realty formed a partnership last year with mall owner General Growth Properties to revamp the site, with plans to "de-mall" the property by demolishing most of it and building an outdoor town center.

Kimco vice president of acquisitions and development Geoffrey Glazer has said Foundry Row would hurt the mall's chances of success, and that his company might drop the mall project if zoning were approved for the Solo Cup site.

Glazer didn't return messages seeking comment. A General Growth spokesman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Kimco did not return phone calls.

Developers of the mall and Metro Centre have questioned whether there is enough retail demand in Owings Mills for all three projects, but Gibbons said the mall and Foundry Row "could work great together." Foundry Row would be anchored by a grocery store, while the mall could focus on the existing fashion retailers and movie theatre.

Across the country, regional indoor malls are struggling, Gibbons said. His company tore down the Hunt Valley Mall and turned it into the Hunt Valley Towne Centre. It recently broke ground on a similar project to revitalize the Laurel Mall.

"It's a failed format, not a failed location," Gibbons said of the Owings Mills Mall. "I think a lot of the tenants could stay, and you just reposition them in a different format."

Councilman Kenneth Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat, said it did not matter to him which developer pursues the mall, but that the project's success was important to his district. Oliver opposed the retail zoning for Foundry Row, in part because he said it would hurt other retail projects in Owings Mills.

"The mall should be redeveloped," Oliver said. "It's a white elephant sitting there, and it's in the heart of Owings Mills."

Gibbons said his company plans to start demolishing the Solo Cup building within six to eight weeks. The company expects to submit site plans to the county by mid-September, with hopes of opening Foundry Row in spring 2015.

Some opponents of the development have said they would challenge the County Council's zoning decision with a referendum drive to put the issue on the 2014 ballot. A group called the Committee for Zoning Integrity submitted proposals to the county for potential petitions.

Last week, the county board of elections wrote to the group saying its petition proposals weren't in the proper format.

Lawyers for the Committee for Zoning Integrity have not returned multiple messages seeking comment.

Opponents would need to gather more than 28,000 signatures by this fall to place the issue on the ballot.

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