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.

City decides Wal-Mart better than nothing

Frederick News Post
07/24/2013
Our hope is that a new Wal-Mart will spur economic activity on the Golden Mile and help revitalize that section of the city — that it will be good for other businesses on the strip, as opposed to making things more difficult for them. We also hope that the plans for the property will hew as closely to the letter and spirit of the small-area plan as possible. We encourage city officials to press the future occupant for any and all contributions it can make in support of this plan. It would be a real tragedy if this decision turned out badly over time. That’s possible, but we do believe it was made in good faith and after much debate and soul-searching by city officials whose alternative was basically to continue to do nothing and hope for the best.

Frederick residents mixed on mall’s decided fate

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/20/2013
When envisioning the future of the abandoned Frederick Towne Mall site on U.S. 40, residents focused on opportunity. They imagined a place where they could live, work and play. They saw themselves walking down winding sidewalks to mom-and-pop shops, like in Bowie or Rockville. Some may not have pictured what the land may now become — home to Frederick's third Wal-Mart. Residents have mixed thoughts about the Board of Aldermen's unanimous decision Thursday to rezone the property from mixed use to general commercial, which will allow developer Rockwood Capital to continue drafting plans for a Wal-Mart on the site.

Frederick residents mixed on mall's decided fate

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/20/2013
When envisioning the future of the abandoned Frederick Towne Mall site on U.S. 40, residents focused on opportunity. They imagined a place where they could live, work and play. They saw themselves walking down winding sidewalks to mom-and-pop shops, like in Bowie or Rockville. Some may not have pictured what the land may now become — home to Frederick's third Wal-Mart. Residents have mixed thoughts about the Board of Aldermen's unanimous decision Thursday to rezone the property from mixed use to general commercial, which will allow developer Rockwood Capital to continue drafting plans for a Wal-Mart on the site.

Will Wal-Mart Vote Impact City Election?

Frederick Politicis
George Wenschhof
07/19/2013
Redevelopment of areas of cities affected by economic and social demographic changes will always be a challenge for city planners and elected officials. Looking outward to discover what other cities across the country have done successfully in similar circumstances is a must. Having the courage and conviction to develop a vision and implement it is paramount. It remains to be seen if the Wal-Mart will be built and if so, what long term impact it will have on the area. Meanwhile, the city election nears, with two of the current aldermen; Kelly Russell (D) and Michael O'Connor (D) running for reelection, two running for mayor; Karen Young (D) and Shelley Aloi (R) and one; Carol Krimm (D) intending to run for Maryland state delegate next year. Will their vote on this issue influence voters when they go to the polls this Fall?

City makes way for Wal-Mart on Frederick Towne Mall site

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/19/2013
The stage is set for a third Wal-Mart in Frederick. After hearing more than an hour of impassioned public comment Thursday, the city's Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 to rezone the Frederick Towne Mall property. The rezoning will allow Rockwood Capital, which owns the 20 acres on U.S. 40, to move forward with a proposal to bulldoze the nearly vacant mall and build a Wal-Mart. The developers will need to bring forward a site plan before finalizing its plan.

Going with the flow on the Golden Mile

Frederick News Post
07/11/2013
Frederick has asked the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for $35,000 to fund a traffic study of the Golden Mile. According to Frederick County traffic engineer Ron Burns, MCOG’s Technical Advisory Committee reviewed the proposal and recommended approving it, so right now it looks like a go. This is very good news, because vehicle, transit and pedestrian traffic is a major consideration in the new vision for this commercial area that the city and Golden Mile Alliance have forged. It is vital to the alliance’s goal to “ ... ensure that the Golden Mile is an attractive, diverse, and highly dynamic, mixed-use commercial corridor with top retail, office, and service uses linked by safe pedestrian routes to healthy residential neighborhoods and parks.” Currently, the flow of all manner of traffic on the Golden Mile needs attention — particularly for bike riders and pedestrians. Despite efforts to improve safety and efficiency, it’s obvious that some new vision is called for. Among other issues, the study would likely examine the pros and cons of creating a dedicated bus lane. It should, because the Golden Mile corridor in heavily traveled and many who work and live in the area need or choose to use public transportation. Traffic flow also needs to conform to and facilitate the small-area plan that has been the centerpiece of the revitalization plan for the Golden Mile. As envisioned by the Frederick Planning Department, the concept is dedicated to making the Golden Mile corridor “walkable, connected, vibrant, safe, complete, attractive and sustainable.”

Businesses say yes, residents say no to rezoning for Wal-Mart

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/11/2013
Business owners on the Golden Mile are all for a new Wal-Mart on U.S. 40, but residents who live nearby say it’s the last thing the city needs. More than 120 people filled the City Hall boardroom Wednesday night to tell the mayor and Board of Aldermen their thoughts on rezoning Frederick Towne Mall and the Conley Farm. The bulk of the crowd at the public hearing commented on the mall property. Rockwood Capital, which owns the 20-acre mall site on U.S. 40, has requested a zoning change that would allow it to demolish the mostly vacant mall and build a Wal-Mart. The zoning would change the land from commercial use to a mix of commercial and residential uses. After hearing more than 30 public comments Wednesday, aldermen finalized conditions of the rezoning, which is scheduled for a vote July 18.

Rezoning for Wal-Mart would have conditions

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
06/20/2013
Wal-Mart or no Wal-Mart, the Frederick Towne Mall site will have conditions attached to its rezoning if it gets rezoned next month, city officials agreed Wednesday. The Board of Aldermen came to the conclusion that conditionally rezoning the property at 1301 W. Patrick St. to general commercial zoning has the potential to advance the city's long-range plans for the area's redevelopment. They agreed the conditions attached to the rezoning should be general concepts and goals, not a specific plan that Wal-Mart has presented.

Watching elected officials over Wal-Mart

Frederick News Post
Katherine Logan
06/16/2013
Despite what you may hear, many of us are against the proposal of a new Wal-Mart at the old Frederick Towne Mall. There is a petition with over 1,500 signatures and yet the public outcry against this has gone unanswered by our elected officials. Instead, we are left with the consistent denial of the “elephant” in the room while city officials repeatedly say this isn’t about Wal-Mart. This is about Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart, zoning and blight among topics pondered by city officials

Frederick News Post
Ed Waters Jr.
06/15/2013
ssues ranging from a proposed downtown hotel to a Wal-Mart on the Golden Mile were informally discussed Friday by Frederick's mayor and aldermen at a meeting with the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. "If the same plan came in without the Wal-Mart name, people would support it," said Alderwoman Shelley Aloi of a proposal to put the big-box store at the former Frederick Towne Mall site on the west side of the city. "It is not our decision to say who goes into a property, it is up to the property owner and the market," Aloi said. "Is the best use for the property residential? No. There is already dense residential use in that area." Alderman Michael O'Connor and others moved to dispel the notion that all businesses on the Golden Mile stretch of U.S. 40 are hurting."Just go out there and see the traffic and the businesses," O'Connor said.

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.

Opposes Wal-Mart based on business practices

Frederick News Post
Sandy Doggett
06/10/2013
I am against another Wal-Mart in Frederick because the company has a history of shoddy practices. There are so many hidden costs to taxpayers to make their low prices possible. Wal-Mart is one of the biggest recipients of corporate welfare in the U.S. Due to low wages , many of their employees are forced to sign up for food stamps (SNAP), housing assistance, earned income tax credits and Medicaid or SCHIP for their children’s health. U.S. taxpayers are forced to support Wal-Mart workers. Their wages are so low that they can’t support their families with a living or just wage. I have a few questions for you to consider. Do you want a company that...

[City of Frederick Planning] Commission to review Wal-Mart proposal

Frederick News Post
06/09/2013
Wal-Mart's proposal for the Frederick Towne Mall property gets another review Monday. The Frederick Planning Commission, with a packed agenda, will consider Wal-Mart's proposal to tear down the mall at 1301 W. Patrick St., leave Boscov's, Ollie's Bargain Outlet and Home Depot as they are, and build a Wal-Mart on the north side of the 40-acre site. The commission meets at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Board Room at 101 N. Court St.

Wal-Mart plan for Frederick Towne Mall moves forward

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
06/06/2013
A redevelopment plan that includes pedestrian paths, gardens, interconnected shopping centers and a Wal-Mart at the site of the Golden Mile's Frederick Towne Mall is a step closer to reality. The property's owner said Wednesday at the board's workshop that the city will have to rezone the site at 1301 W. Patrick St. to general commercial zoning if it wants to see that redevelopment plan — or anything better — start at the vacant mall. The Board of Aldermen found more tweaks they would like to see to the proposal, all in an effort, they said, to get closer to their ideal vision for the area's redevelopment.

Frederick residents spar over plan to build new Walmart on Golden Mile

About 150 attend meeting at empty mall to hear developers
Gazette
Tripp Laino
05/10/2013
The Frederick Planning Commission recommended at a March meeting that the aldermen reject the zoning change. It’s the third time the plans have been presented publicly, with vocal opponents and proponents of the plan to replace the nearly empty Frederick Towne Mall sparring at previous meetings, and online on social media sites. An online petition drive on the website Change.org has nearly 1,500 signatures, with residents urging the aldermen not to approve the zoning change.

A Tale of Two Walmarts

The Frederick Citizen
Jack Lynch
03/27/2013
The era of the big box store has presented a conundrum for many places planning, the consumer convenience and pricing have driven a wild success in repeating these retail locations across the country, and they grow increasingly larger in size and offerings, and in recent years have driven down the commercial success and increased competition with retail grocery chains which typical operate on already thin margins. This situation presents itself in Frederick along Route 26 on the north side of the city.

Frederick panel rejects zoning change for Golden Mile mall

Planners oppose allowing big-box store, prefer keeping residential element
Gazette
Tripp Laino
03/12/2013
Denying a request from the developer of the Frederick Towne Mall, the Frederick Planning Commission has left unchanged the zoning for the linchpin to the long-awaited revitalization of the Golden Mile. The current mixed-use zoning designation requires the development of both commercial and residential use, and prohibits the building of warehouse stores and super centers. The mall sits at the far end of the Golden Mile, which stretches along U.S. Route 40 between U.S. 15 and Interstate 70 and is one of the first places visitors encounter when entering the stretch from I-70. The mayor and Frederick Board of Aldermen have final approval of any zoning change, but consider recommendations from the commission.