The Baltimore County Council approved the rezoning of the abandoned Solo Cup factory along Reisterstown Road Aug. 28, supporting the continued development of the new Foundry Row shopping center.
Foundry Row will be a 52-acre open air shopping center, featuring a Wegmans supermarket, open retail and office space. It is expected to be opened in March 2015.
The rezoning was approved by a vote of 6-1. Councilwoman Vicki Almond represents District 2, where Foundry Row will be constructed. She said she led the vote to approve the rezoning.
"Nine out of 10 people who called, emailed or spoke to me in person told me they wanted this project. That's why I decided to go through with it," Almond said. "The community wanted this in the worst way. They're looking to spend their money in Owings Mills."
Councilman Kenneth Oliver voted against the rezoning. Oliver said he doesn't believe the site has the appropriate infrastructure needed for a new shopping center.
"I have reservations about Wegmans' place in the development," Oliver said. "It's between two supermarkets, Giant and Safeway. If they add in more sites and restaurants, who knows what that's going to do to the area?"
Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corp, one of the developers of Foundry Row, said the project will provide 2,300 construction jobs, 3,100 permanent jobs and $12 million in new tax revenues. Now that the space has been rezoned, he said development will move quickly.
"We hope to start the demolition process in the next couple of weeks," Gibbons said. "It will take eight months to demolish completely. Then we can start on development."
Almond said that worries about the project's impact on the community are unfounded.
"People say that once you give the approval to rezone, it's like a blank check. That's just not true," Almond said. "The project still has to go through a lengthy development process where there are a series of checks and studies that have to be done. I feel Baltimore County has a great system for rezoning and development, and I feel confident in that system."
Included in the development plans are $7 million for the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Painters Mill and Reisterstown Road, as well as improvements to the intersection and the creation of a new major road that leads to the front of the development.
Oliver said the plans for road improvements wont help with traffic congestion.
"Their plan includes $7 million of road work, and it's only going to the front of the location," Oliver said. "It's hardly going to Reisterstown Road at all."
Brian Ditto, executive director of the Reisterstown, Owings Mills, Glyndon Chamber of Commerce said he feels confident in the proposed road work.
"The thing to remember is that this is private money," Ditto said. "This is what we've been waiting for. With the economic downturn, the state hasn't been willing to put the money toward improving these roads."
Ditto said the Chamber of Commerce has been a supporter of the Foundry Row development for many months.
"Very clearly, this is just the shot in the arm our community needs," Ditto said.