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Baltimore County

Baltimore County announces plans to acquire former Sears property at Security Square Mall in Woodlawn

Baltimore County announced plans Friday to acquire the former Sears department store property at Security Square Mall as part of an effort to revitalize the 40-year-old Woodlawn center.

Under the $10 million contract with property owner TF Baltimore MD LLC, Baltimore County will acquire about 18 acres of land that includes the 202,653-square-foot former store building directly connected to the mall, Baltimore County officials said in a news release.

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“The Security Square Mall site is a critical anchor for the communities on the west side of Baltimore County, and our administration is committed to revitalizing the area and making sure it will serve as a vibrant community hub for years to come,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said in a news release.

This announcement comes a few months after the county said it would provide $20 million in funding for the community-driven revitalization of Security Square Mall and the surrounding areas.

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“The communities surrounding Security Square need and deserve reinvestment,” House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones said in Friday’s release. “Funding from Baltimore County and the State of Maryland to purchase the Sears Building is an important and necessary step in the revitalization of the Security Square Mall area.”

Originally opened in 1972, the mall has lost several major retailers and eateries in recent years, including J.C. Penney in 2001, Sears in 2019, IHOP and Bennigan’s. Macy’s and Burlington Coat Factory remain as anchors.

The last effort to improve the mall was in 1998 when the mall received $2 million for renovations. As Security Square declined, frustration built in the community.

In response to recent community concerns, the county opened the Woodlawn Health Center at the O.W.E. Center at Security Square last year. This facility provides primary care services, health counseling, immunizations, screening, diagnosis, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and other services.

With Friday’s announcement of the planned purchase of the Sears property, the county has taken a significant step, said Ryan Coleman, president of Randallstown’s NAACP.

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“This shows a huge commitment from the county to really continue the revitalization efforts that are ongoing,” Coleman said Friday. “This is another strong commitment from the county to work with the community on the revitalization of the mall and putting some institutions and retail shops at the mall that the community wants.”

The Olszewski administration is planning a charrette, or collaborative designing and planning activity, to engage the community in a process to re-imagine and potentially transform the mall into a more vibrant and community-focused anchor.

The county has contracted with JMT, Ayers Saint Gross and Landwise to lead this process, including community participation in a visioning and design process for the entire mall property. The charrette will take place this fall, and a timeline and additional details will be shared in the coming weeks, according to the county release.

Plans for development, redevelopment or repositioning of the former Sears site, and the use of the remaining funds committed for the site, will be informed by the outcome of the charrette.

The purchase is subject to approval by the County Council on Sept. 6 and will go to closing by Sept. 30, according to the county release.

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“I look forward to working with the county executive, administration and other community groups to craft what the Sears store will look like,” Coleman said. “There are a lot of options of what can be there.”


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