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Baltimore's historic Edmondson Village Shopping Center can be saved, developer says | READER COMMENTARY

Edmondson Village shopping center in 2017. File. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun).

Over the last year, I’ve heard hundreds of stories about the former greatness of Edmondson Village Shopping Center (EVSC). Developed by Jacob and Joseph Meyerhoff in 1947, the center was described by The Baltimore Sun as “a suburban shopping center of harmonious design, said to be unique in American city planning.” It was also innovative in giving design control to surrounding tenants and property owners.

Sadly, many more residents report that they no longer shop there and prefer to spend their money at other retailers in Baltimore County. Social media influencers have shared posts and videos that joke about EVSC and warn their followers not to stop at a nearby gas station because it’s dangerous.


The unfortunate current reality of Edmondson Village Shopping Center is that it not only hasn’t kept up with and competed well with newer shopping centers, it has also been the site of a horrific tragedy: In January, 16-year-old Deanta Dorsey was killed and four other young people were shot in the parking lot (”Some hope for revival at rundown Baltimore shopping center where five teens were shot,” Jan. 7).

Against these daunting odds, and with the city, state and area residents as partners, I hope to kick off a resurgence that delivers safety, pride and high quality shopping convenience to EVSC and its surrounding community.


My company, Chicago TREND, has developed a strategy to renovate the center’s existing structures and build new stores. We also aim to attract new restaurants, a supermarket and other services and amenities. Our $41 million plan budgets for new lighting, high technology cameras, ramped-up 24-hour security and area beautification. We have funding from the state of Maryland to immediately implement youth entrepreneurship and violence prevention programs and the city of Baltimore has awarded us $8 million to make upgrades and capital improvements.

I’m proud of Chicago TREND’s contributions to economic change and improvements in hyperlocal Baltimore retail locales and their neighborhoods. A number of years ago, I led the team that redeveloped Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore. I am now overseeing the effort to transform Walbrook Junction Shopping Center into a national model of community ownership after lining up the resources to renovate it and bring in new tenants. More than 130 individual, Black and socially minded impact investors from the Walbrook area now own 49% of the shopping center.

For Edmondson Village, we’ve been working with neighborhood leaders to garner 59 signatures to amend its existing (and shockingly outdated) 1947 business covenants in order to facilitate a new model of community ownership for residents, Black entrepreneurs and impact investors. Making a convincing case that there can be a bright future for the center has been challenging given how far it has sunk from its storied past. But thanks to the city and state backing of the endeavor, as well as the national support that Chicago TREND has received from such organizations as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase, the long overdue rebirth of the economic life of Edmondson Village and of southwest Baltimore can be attained.

With a comprehensive overhaul and upgrade of Edmondson Village Shopping Center and an innovative ownership structure, it will become an asset for the community once again. And residents will be positioned to reap the vast shopping, civic pride and investment and property value benefits that its success will deliver.

— Lyneir Richardson, Chicago, Illinois

The writer is the CEO and co-founder of Chicago TREND, a social enterprise that accelerates commercial developments across America with the aim of strengthening inner city neighborhoods and their surrounding communities.

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