THERE WERE SO many zig-zags over the years, so many vocal skeptics, that it seems almost unbelievable that the
redevelopment of Glen Burnie's downtown may at last become reality. A letter of intent, signed by Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary last week, calls for a joint venture to start construction next spring on the last undeveloped parcel in the North County town's urban renewal district.
"This is the highlight of our administration," Mr. Gary said. "This is something that has been over 20 years in the making and we're glad to be able to get it done."
Under the letter of intent, Six C/D Associates will handle the development of 70,000 square feet of commercial space on a 5.6-acre lot off Crain Highway, near New Jersey Avenue. Baltimore's Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse will be responsible for the residential component of 54 apartments. Total price tag: $14 million.
Mr. Gary deserves credit for having elevated Glen Burnie's revitalization to priority status in his administration. His personal interest in getting things moving broke the deadlock that followed County Executive Robert R. Neall's decision two years ago not to bankroll a previous would-be developer.
The original Superblock plan, adopted in 1980 in a vastly different climate for such projects, called for construction of 200,000-square feet of office and retail space plus a five-level parking garage. That vision ultimately changed to an understanding that a mixed-use project would go on the site.
Downtown Glen Burnie's heyday was in the 1950s, just before the commuter train service to Baltimore was discontinued. Folks crowded the old Robinson's department store and the area's movies, restaurants and gas stations. After developer James Rouse opened Harundale Mall in 1958, the area started to decline as bigger retailers opened along Ritchie Highway.
The letter of intent between Mr. Gary and developers coincides with a number of other changes that could help Glen Burnie. Anne Arundel Community College recently finished expanding a satellite campus and a bar and restaurant is to open in the long-vacant Robinson's building. For Glen Burnie and the county, the good news is long overdue. We hope the zig-zags and false starts are history.
Pub date: 9/17/96