Frederick’s Next Dead Mall

Frederick Gorilla
Matt Edens
09/30/2013
Well, that’s settled: We’re getting another Walmart. In July, the Board of Aldermen approved the controversial rezoning that will make way for a new Walmart Supercenter in the middle of what was once Frederick Towne Mall. Opinions varied widely in the often acrimonious debate leading up to the vote. The most outspoken proponents promised that the big box retailer would be the boost the area needs to reclaim its past glory as a shopping destination. Meanwhile, the direst opponents painted the supercenter’s grand opening as a dark day that would bring the Golden Mile — and maybe America — one step closer to oblivion. By and large, I doubt either prediction will come to fruition. In fact, that’s primarily why I opposed the rezoning. Choosing general commercial over the mixed-use model that’s been the key component of at least half a dozen successful shopping center makeovers in the region essentially preserves the status quo. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that in 10 years the Golden Mile will remain what it is today: a struggling retail strip, albeit one with a Walmart. I doubt it will have a Kmart, however.

Hungry for growth?

Frederick News Post
Matt Edens
06/17/2013
As Blaine Young is fond of pointing out to his critics, Frederick County is currently growing at its slowest rate since the 1960s. Less than 1,000 residential building permits have been approved in each of the past five years, but the Board of County Commissioners president/radio personality remains hopeful for 2013. His most recent in a long series of letters to the editor declared that “if the economy holds, and if the banks will ease off the flow of construction money, we may actually get to 1,000 homes per year.” Young and his reliable majority on the board are doing everything they can to nudge that number along. Of the 202 fees the commissioners have reduced or done away with in the name of making Frederick County more “business friendly,” well over half have to do with the planning, zoning and permitting related to development. Those statistics are enough to set Young’s shrillest critics to shrieking, but the shriekers overlook an important point. And so does the Board of County Commissioners. While policy changes at Winchester Hall can make supply easier to deliver, there’s little the county can do to goose demand. And there are signs that demand is slowing for the sort of product our zoning and development apparatus largely remains set up to deliver.

Develop-Mental: GIMCRACK MILE?

Frederick Gorilla
Matt Edens
06/10/2013
The big box is out of the bag. Matt Edens questions the merit of transforming Frederick Towne Mall into a “power center.” The big box is out of the bag. After months of rumors, the owners of Frederick Towne Mall have finally ’fessed up: They want to build a Walmart. Whether the city’s Board of Aldermen will overrule the recommendations of the planning commission and grant the mall’s owners the zoning change they need to build the big box, I don’t know. But I personally think it would be a damn shame.

Baby's no longer on board

Frederick News Post
Matt Edens
04/30/2012
Frederick's clustered spires are a proud symbol of the city's past, but do they also bode well for its future? The thought came to me the other day while reading a news story about, of all things, the automobile industry. A business piece in The Atlantic, it chronicled how carmakers are struggling to connect with the youth market, specifically Gen Y, the millennials born between approximately 1980 and the early 2000s. Roughly 80 million strong, they're the largest demographic cohort in American history, outnumbering even their baby-boomer parents. And since they're now entering their car driving and buying years in large numbers, they represent the next major market for carmakers. There's one just one problem. The under-30 set, many of whom spent their formative years being chauffeured from play date to soccer practice in station wagons and SUVs festooned with "Baby on Board" stickers, isn't all that keen on moving up to the driver's seat.

Baby’s no longer on board

Frederick News Post
Matt Edens
04/30/2012
Frederick's clustered spires are a proud symbol of the city's past, but do they also bode well for its future? The thought came to me the other day while reading a news story about, of all things, the automobile industry. A business piece in The Atlantic, it chronicled how carmakers are struggling to connect with the youth market, specifically Gen Y, the millennials born between approximately 1980 and the early 2000s. Roughly 80 million strong, they're the largest demographic cohort in American history, outnumbering even their baby-boomer parents. And since they're now entering their car driving and buying years in large numbers, they represent the next major market for carmakers. There's one just one problem. The under-30 set, many of whom spent their formative years being chauffeured from play date to soccer practice in station wagons and SUVs festooned with "Baby on Board" stickers, isn't all that keen on moving up to the driver's seat.