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Though labeled as “bleak,” Wal-Mart store is on track for approval

ANALYSIS: Wal-Mart suffers a temporary setback in its quest for a superstore in Remington.

walmart site today

Looking west from Huntingdon Avenue, part of the 7-acre plot that’s been carved out of the stalled 25th Street Station project for a Super Wal-Mart.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Pity poor Wal-Mart. The attempt by the world’s biggest retailer to win quick approval of its big-box store in North Baltimore was thwarted last week when a city design board criticized both the aesthetics and layout of the plan.

But don’t get too broken up. The retailer has ample political clout to roll past – or over – the objections of the Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel (UDARP) about the “Super Wal-Mart” proposed on West 25th Street in Remington.

With a corporate strategy to move aggressively into urban areas, Wal-Mart has the support of most big-city politicians, including Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The lure of jobs (if not well-paying ones) trumps any deficiencies in design.

So expect plans for more Wal-Marts elsewhere in the city. For some time, for example, the company has been eyeing the closed Pemco enamel factory, across from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, on Eastern Avenue.

And Wal-Mart is not alone. Next Tuesday (Oct. 8), Target plans the grand opening of its 135,000-square-foot store at The Shops at Canton Crossing.

The 31-acre site, on former industrial property along Boston Street, constitutes the largest retail development in the city in years and will include chain restaurants, national retailers and a Harris Teeter grocery store. Expect a slew of city and state politicians on hand, basking in the media limelight.

In Remington, residents and area shop owners – several of whom battled the retail giant in court and lost – have mostly reconciled themselves to the coming of Wal-Mart. They are now trying to wrest some concessions over green space, parking and the location of the truck loading ramps.

Living Wage Issue

The only serious threat to Wal-Mart’s plans is the passage of local legislation that would raise the minimum wage currently set at $7.25 an hour in Maryland.

Earlier this month, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a bill aimed establishing a wage floor for mega-retailers operating in the District. Wal-Mart said it would not locate new stores in Washington if the bill, requiring $12.50 an hour in combined wages and benefits, passed. Gray cited the loss of jobs for his veto.

In 2010, a living wage bill before the Baltimore City Council was soundly defeated by Wal-Mart financed and allied business groups. Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke remains the lone champion of the legislation, without support from fellow Council members or Mayor Rawlings-Blake.

The Remington Plan

What Wal-Mart sought last Thursday was UDARP’s sign-off of what was described as a “minor” amendment to the Planned Urban Development (PUD) approved by the City Council for the 25th Street Station project in November 2010.

Yellow dotted lines show the 7 acres that Wal_Mart seeks to carve out of 25th Street Station project and buy. (Wal-Mart presentation to UDARP)

Yellow dotted line shows the land that Wal-Mart wants to buy for its Superstore. (Wal-Mart presentation to UDARP)

The retailer disclosed that it planned to reach an agreement with developer Rick Walker to purchase 7.2 acres of the site west of Howard Street, leaving Walker’s WV Urban Development group to stake out the square block to the east (to Maryland Avenue and 25th) for proposed townhouses and specialty shops.

Judith Kunst, president of the Greater Remington Improvement Association, said she didn’t receive the new plans until shortly before the meeting began.

Among the changes in the new plan: the size of the store would increase from 94,000 to 104,000 square feet (with inclusion of a new garden section), the loading dock would be accessed by trucks on 24th Street instead of Huntingdon Avenue (thereby bordering a block of residential houses instead of CSX rail tracks), and a parking garage would be replaced by surface parking.

Overall, the footprint of the development would shrink by more than 100,000 square feet because the main building would not include a Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.

Design Described as “Fake” and “Bleak”

The presentation didn’t go as smoothly as Wal-Mart reps and Walker’s Carolyn Paff (former senior development director at the Baltimore Development Corporation) expected.

Seeing the designs, the panel blanched. “I keep using the word ‘bleak’ because that is what I’m seeing,” UDARP member Gary Bowden told Daniel Condatore, Wal-Mart’s Neptune, N.J.-based architect.

When Condatore interjected that the windowless brick walls flanking the store’s entrance were meant to reflect and celebrate the historic Baltimore rowhouse, Bowden dismissed the effort as “fake” and “an artificial gesture.”

“You went backwards on the building,” he chided a downcast-looking Condatore, citing a previous design where Wal-Mart was going to share the building with Lowe’s.

Disappearance of Green Space

When the City Council approved the PUD in 2010, Walker promised an “environmentally sound and sensitive project,” including “one of the largest regulatory green roofs in the region.”

24th Street looking east from Sisson today and (below) the future wall separating Wal-Mart's truck dock area from the same spot. (Mark Reutter and Wal-Mart presentation)

(Above) 24th Street today and (below) the wall separating the street from Wal-Mart’s truck turnaround. (Mark Reutter and Wal-Mart)

24th st plan

The roof over the rejiggered Wal-Mart building was still described as “green” by Condatore, but nobody was buying it.

UDARP panelist David Haresign castigated the design for lacking relief from the asphalt paving, “gigantic” parking lot and blank walls, while Thomas Stosur, the normally mild-manned chief of the planning department, simply said: “I’m overpowered by the amount of brick.”

Residents from the Remington and Old Goucher communities weren’t much happier.

“This could have been plucked out of any suburban shopping mall in the country,” Bruce Willen of the Old Goucher Business Alliance, complained. He emphasized that the store is located a residential area, but the plan was “very hostile to pedestrians.”

Those driving to the store will be asked to take a “designated” route – north on Howard Street and south on Maryland Avenue – and to use the North Avenue ramps to enter and exit from the Jones Falls Expressway. Several residents called this wishful thinking.

The Fawcett community, located south of 24th Street, could be severely impacted by the influx of cars and delivery trucks, community representative and resident Megan Hamilton said.

Joan Floyd, president of the Remington Neighborhood Alliance, called on the city to preserve the truck loading dock originally approved near Huntington Avenue. Several speakers criticized the disappearance of an entrance on 24th Street closer to Howard Street.

Future Approval

To the surprise of the petitioner, UDARP refused to rubber stamp the plans and called on Wal-Mart to resubmit its building designs and parking layout at a future meeting. Panelist Bowden went so far as to suggest that the retailer  might be served better by a new site plan.”

Based on past actions, however, UDARP is likely to relent on any major reworking of the Remington proposal. Last year, for example, the panel was highly critical of CBAC Gaming’s massive parking garage at the Horseshoe Casino, only to approve a more streamlined garage on Warner Street a few months later.

Wal-Mart can also take heart that it won approval from the same design panel for its only other store in Baltimore at Port Covington.

Compared to that dreary fake-stone edifice at the dead end of a remote parking lot, Wal-Mart’s take on the historic Baltimore rowhouse looks almost sophisticated.

Wal-Mart's only store in Baltimore is isolated at the foot of South Baltimore at Port Covington. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Wal-Mart’s only store in Baltimore is isolated at the foot of Port Covington in South Baltimore. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

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  • Nacho Belvedere

    Yet another shining jewel in the crown of Baltimore.

  • James Hunt

    So, you were expecting Hutzler’s Palace Building? Already the Wal-Mart’s design is better looking than the neighboring auto supply stores, storage facilities, Sav-a-Lot strip mall, and the funky blue senior citizen tower.

  • Day_Star

    It is a Walmart, after all, but in DC they got relatively good urban design. A bi-level parking garage would cost $$$, but would help reduce the sea of asphalt — I wish structured parking were a mandated requirement for inner city big box, a la Harris Teeter in Locust Point. There were two voices of support from the community at UDARP, I hear, that talked about how Walmart was the only store that they could afford to buy clothes at (they were wearing Walmart clothes) and that they currently have to take cabs and buses and make a day of it, so not all is bad with having the store come here.

  • Matthew Riesner

    Just break ground already…this shopping center has been the center of a large legal mess that lead to Lowes pulling out (they pulled the plug on any store without a lease already signed a few years ago when they had a poor earnings report) which in my opinion is sorely needed in this city since there are not many comprehensive consumer-level building supply stores that are in this city and almost none that are open when working people are doing the DIY projects…nights and weekends. Its been 4 years and nothing has been built. This shows how great of a business environment Baltimore has become. It takes 4 years just to get an ok on the permits? The shopping center could have been generating rents, paying taxes, included the Lowes, and employing people for over 2 years now, if it were to have to kept its orginal schedule.
    Furthermore, its funny because everyone bitches about a Walmart moving in but no one has the self control to not shop there once it exists. If you don’t like it, dont’s shop there. You can continue buying overpriced niche items from Hampden…or uncompetitively priced essential items from Safeway. Personnally, I think it will be a more positive influence on the neighborhood than an empty car lot and a multiple vacant properties on 24th Street.

    • River Mud

      Funny how some of the Remington folks will tell you with a straight face that the site’s appropriate use within the neighborhood context is four Starbucks stores, a Whole Foods, a Chipotle, and some type of Coal Fired Pizza restaurant. Because those are all critical needs in Remington.

      • Matthew Riesner

        That is what Seawall’s developments bring to the neighborhood

      • Joshua Bornfield

        How about a Trader Joe’s? Or maybe give the same tax incentives to the 28th Street Wellness Center to move into that space so we could have an actual co-op in town? Make half the space a community garden, which seem to thrive all over the neighborhood.

        • ham_snadwich

          They already tried forming a co-op. Didn’t go so well. They took a lot of peoples’ money and closed a few months later.

          • Matthew Riesner

            That’s what happens when you have a place ran by hippies That have no experience running a successful business.

          • River Mud

            I love to make fun of hippies as much as the next person, but hippies could certainly be successful. All you have to do to stay in business is “manage profit and loss.” Which is to say, a budget. When you are getting huge City subsidies and charitable donations, that becomes easier. Now, when you want to GROW a business and have to PROJECT P&L (along with its buddy “Overhead”), that becomes interesting and the likelihood of failure increases.

          • ham_snadwich

            I’d say that managing cash flow is the most important thing, but close enough. Most people underestimate their startup costs and overestimate revenue in the first few months of getting started. Owning a successful business means recognizing you’ll probably lose money for the first year or so.

          • ham_snadwich

            Lots of businesses fail for lots of reasons. It doesn’t have anything to do with being a hippy. They tried it, it didn’t work. No reason to throw good money after bad, and also no reason to disparage people for trying something.

      • Andrew

        Those businesses would elevate the value of the neighborhood instead of chiseling in cement “Ghetto” forever. If they could convince Food Hole to open there you would see a lot of great positive changes in the neighborhood.

        • ham_snadwich

          Poor people need a place to shop too.

          • Andrew

            Sure, the poor could frequent the small shops that would be put out of business if Walmart opened up. Just around the corner from the proposed site, there is a wonderful little hardware store full of bright helpful people who rely on their place to feed their families. In fact, poor people could open up little places of their own that fill some need in the community. That would also support the character of the neighborhood. Owning a small business is a heck of a better future than working at Walmart.

          • River Mud

            Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars of small business grants available from the City, to say nothing of loans, why hasn’t this already happened in Remington?

          • River Mud

            My thoughts precisely. 2011 data shows that 51% of Baltimore adults do not work (not the same as ‘unemployed’). This is their neighborhood, too. Gentrification has considerable negative impacts, especially when it’s gentrification only for profit, and the demand for high-end services and housing doesn’t really exist in an area. I haven’t read enough studies on Remington to KNOW this to be true, but having lived in Hampden for about 7 years and in the City for almost 15, I believe it’s likely to be true.

    • BaltimoreDave

      Walmart is largest employer of people on well fare because they dont offer a living wage.

      I have lived in this city 22 years and there is nothing a Walmart can offer that I need that is not provided by local businesses that also create jobs. Jobs and wealth that will stay in the community rather than sent down to a 6 stock holders in the Walmart family that has more wealth between them than half of the Unites States population combined.

      • Matthew Riesner

        But that is not the way our econony works…if you have a problem with what Walmarts employees get paid, work on increasing the minimum wage, strengthening the power of organized labor, and creating labor shortages by attracting more businesses to the area. We can not and should not, as a city actively choose which businesses are and are not granted permits and will be allowed to operate here.

        • Joshua Bornfield

          That is straight up not true. Communities all over the country allow their citizens the power to keep corporations out that the populations finds undesirable for one reason or another; this is how the Hamptons avoided getting completely monopolized by fast food restaurants.

          The reason that Walmart has become so successful is because they have predatory business practices on two levels. The first is an absence of labor equity, meaning that an employee who approaches full-time work has not only not been offered benefits, but also has not been allowed to take the final 2.5 hours in their full-time status because of the federal health insurance standards. This yields a gross yearly salary of $14,137.50, placing net earnings well below the poverty line. The other practice is market saturation by brand equity; open as many stores as possible and keep them all open, even if an individual store is unsuccessful. The people who don’t want a Wal-Mart in their backyard move away because of the sense of destitution it brings in its wake, or maybe because of memories they have of a time when America didn’t need Wal-Mart and those of the drastic change it brought to the our marketplaces and communities. Whatever the reason, those people leave. And they were the ones likely to start a local business that could pay more to its employees, but not with Wal-Mart there — a small business could never survive. What’s left behind is Wal-Mart and another house for rent, and that house gets filled with another group of people who have no problem with Wal-Mart.

          I haven’t shopped in one of those stores for 20 years. I remember my friends’ businesses closing one by one, and I remember when one day it wasn’t just teenagers working there, but adults with families, people with kids whose good jobs evaporated in the wake of the Waltons. I’m all for competitive business, but that — that’s not business. It’s imperialism. And though it will bring cheap, crappy clothes and cheap, crappy furniture and granola bars made from corrugated cardboard that are cheaper than the ones you find at OK Natural (or hell, even Safeway), it will likely also bring the closure of all the corner stores except 7-11 between Charles and 83, 22nd to Hopkins; most of the businesses on 25th street, and maybe the specialty art store on Howard and North — maybe. Now, you’ll be able to see all the angry destitute people in ours and our surrounding neighborhoods in one angry destitute place that is only injecting enough money into the community to bring in more drug dealers — I guarantee you there is no economic prosperity in this. Check their track record. The Waltons come to take, not to give.

          • Matthew Riesner

            That’s great about the Hamptons, but here in the real world, Remington, MD, there is support by at least half of the residents. Some are even excited about having to not go to Hampden, Charles Village, or out to the county to buy everyday, day-to-day, reasonably priced products essential post-modern living. And, by the way, what is going to shut down…a Safeway that is poorly managed and understaffed, a Save-A-Lot grocery store that I had to the call the health department on more than once on for having frozen food that was thawing, book stores that don’t keep regular hours and are not open when 9-5 working people are able to shop? You tell me what is going to shut down in the Remington neighborhood or lower Charles Village due to Walmart?

        • snarkycomments

          When studies* show a loss of about 3 jobs in surrounding businesses for every 2 jobs at a Walmart, a financially responsible city has an obligation to put the project under very strict scrutiny.

          * source: Journal of Urban Economics ( http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~dneumark/walmart.pdf ) “The employment results indicate that a Wal-Mart store opening reduces county-level retail employment by about 150 workers, implying that each Wal-Mart worker replaces approximately 1.4 retail workers.”

          • Matthew Riesner

            This has more to do with the larger shifts in the economy than the introduction of Walmart. What they are comparing is similar to blaming the high murder rate on higher ice cream sales (causation does not equal correlation). There are few Walmart stores in Detriot and other rust belt cities and they have a high unemployment rate in the low skill segment of the job market.

    • bruuuce

      Perhaps if this had been a better-thought-out project from the start, or at least if the developer had attempted to work with the community to improve it (as Seawall does) there would not be such opposition to the project.

      This project is symptomatic of the broken development process in Baltimore: BDC works behind closed doors to bring in mega-developments that are not supported by or sympathetic to the surrounding communities. Developer pretends that the project is impossible without gigantic tax breaks. Citizens get upset because of the bad design/lack of vision/$-giveaways/lack of transparency/etc. Legal fights ensue. Project is delayed for years, generates mountains of ill will, or fails entirely. (see Superblock etc) Repeat.

      Small-/mid-scale and market-driven projects are the ones that are succeeding in Baltimore. Why doesn’t the city recognize this?

      • River Mud

        It’s a closed power loop, full of consultants who are ex-City employees and City employees who are ex-consultants. Why would they ever volunteer to break that up and open it up to public scrutiny?

      • Matthew Riesner

        You know when the shopping center was originally was proposed, the developer was not seeking any tax assistance from the city. It was the members of the city council that pushed the issue such as Belinda Connaway. It was when the city started meddeling in the business of the developer that they started seeking assistance.

    • Andrew

      Where do i sign up to oppose this?

  • Billy

    Did they ever decide if it is to be a 24-hour Walmart or not? When it left my neighborhood talks, it was NOT going to be 24 hours. But I never understood why.

    • snarkycomments

      Certain NIMBY associations in Remington and Charles Village believe that all upstanding citizens should be in bed by 10pm. They’ve been very opposed to restaurants being open late; I can only assume they are against stores being open late as well.

      • ham_snadwich

        I’m not sure you understand what NIMBY means.

        • River Mud

          They might. “The poor people who have to shop for their groceries after 3rd Shift should have access to 24-hour shopping – of course they should – to not have that possibility would be unfair! Just as long as it’s NIMBY.”

          • ham_snadwich

            Except that’s not the case here. He’s just making it up. To the best of my knowledge, no one objected to a 24 hour grocery store. Besides, NIMBYism usually relates to something unpleasant, like, say, a methadone clinic or a transfer station.
            I get that people think it’s unfair to restrict a restaurant’s hours, but when they’re in a residential neighborhood it’s a different matter. Moreso when they have a liquor license.

          • River Mud

            Yeah, liquor license is a game changer, this is true. And I get that NIMBYism is traditionally about unsavory “use” vs. “services” but in our (city) neighborhood the NIMBYs successfully fought the Walgreens from being 24hr. Honestly, it’s just as well, that place is dead after 730pm. They couldn’t staff a third shift and maintain a profit margin.

          • Matthew Riesner

            It would be awesome if this Walmart could sell beer and wine as well. Walmart usually has great prices on beer and wine out of state and it would be convenient to buy with my other essentials.

          • ham_snadwich

            Not going to happen, but that’s a state law, not a City law.

          • Matthew Riesner

            I realize that but it would be very convenient…tube socks, laundry soap, a rifle, bag of chips, a new TV, and beer…all at the same place

          • Matthew Riesner

            …btw, what’s up with not selling guns and ammo at this Walmart…where do I buy a gun in this city these days?

          • ham_snadwich

            Clyde’s.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Clyde’s is in Lansdowne which is in the county

          • Alexander Mitchell

            “Besides, NIMBYism usually relates to something unpleasant, like, say, a methadone clinic or a transfer station.”
            That’s precisely the level that Wal-Mart critics hold the prospect of a Wal-Mart store. If not even lower.

    • Billy

      Is there any thought, however, that the presence of shoppers in Remington 24 hours would lead to police presence and security on duty 24 hours, which could lead to a safer, more vigilant Remington?

  • brainoverbrawn

    Part of the appeal of renting on 27th and Huntingdon was the relatively quiet street traffic. I have no interest in shopping at this store, though many of my neighbors will — but I guarantee that traffic is going to clog my street day in and day out, and the already accident-prone curve coming out of 25th street will become a pedestrian cemetery. There are better places to put a big-box, people. Leave Remington alone, and keep the Walton family out of our wallets.

    • Matthew Riesner

      The city is supposed to be turning Huntingdon Avenue into a 2 lane road with angled back in parking. This should help reduce some of the danger. This was petitioned a few years ago, agreed to by the DOT, and is contigent on the approval of the development. I have lived on the 2700 block of Huntingdon for 4 years and I can tell you that these issues were addressed when the development was first introduced. Truth is, there are alot of people in Remington and the surrounding area that are going to be traveling by foot to the shopping center and given that the neighborhood has not been a hotbed for retail, I think this development is necessary and will be benefitial to the area.

  • James Hunt

    BaltimoreDave wrote:

    … Walmart is largest employer of people on well fare because they dont offer a living wage. …

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Chiapparelli’s didn’t offer a “living wage” when I worked in the kitchen and neither did Mercantile when I was a teller. But — and I know this is crazy talk for some lefties — I rented with other people, kept my expenses down, and managed to get by without welfare.

    • snarkycomments

      Despite your assertion that you personally didn’t go on welfare doesn’t change the fact that Walmart depends on our tax dollars subsidizing a huge percentage of their workforce (through various forms of assistance to) so that they can avoid paying more in wages.

      • James Hunt

        Golly, snarky, I guess it would be better if the people who shop for clothes and household goods at Wal-Mart went to the boutiques on 36th street instead, right? Or maybe the Salvation Army? Or maybe they should just take the bus to Port Covington or the county to shop? That would leave them less time to make snarky comments on the Brew, though.

        • Andrew

          No, it would be better if they kept buying things wherever they bought them before.

    • bmorepanic

      Bank tellers have been paid at least the minimum wage for a long time. When I started work, getting paid the minimum wage was the equivalent of making $10 to $12 per hour today. So even the same thing – being paid the minimum wage – is less money than it used to be.

      It’s sort of ok when you’re young without other responsibilities but not so great at 64 when your job was outsourced and you don’t have a lot of prospects for other jobs in the field for which you trained. America has lost a lot of “good jobs” and small businesses and replaced them with Walmart.

      Even trying to work at multiple jobs to make ends meet is a little difficult when you don’t know your hours in advance or what days you’ll have off. There is quite a bit of stress in never knowing whether you’ll be able to get the hundred of dollars you’ll need for your insurance premium plus co-pays or pharmacy bills or how to get food for yourself and your children.

      A goodly number of people who have limited funds rely entirely on thrift and second hand stores and dumpsters for clothes and household goods. This is partly because they aren’t able to afford to shop anywhere else – including Walmart.

  • asteroid_B612

    I’m curious as to the differences in the wage and benefit scales between Walmart, Target, Home Depot, CVS, 7-11, McDonalds, and the other national retailers. Do all of these other large retailers pay a living wage and provide health insurance, and Walmart does not? My suspicion is that they do not, and that there isn’t much difference between any of them.

    The strange thing about the DC minimum wage law was that it exempted union big box and grocery stores. Why would failure to pay a living wage be OK at Giant or Safeway, but not Walmart?

    • River Mud

      The impact of lobbyists. Luckily, Baltimore City leaders are immune from that kind of undue influence. Right? Am I right?! Why’s everyone being so quiet?

  • Andrew

    There’s a reason NYC fights valiantly to keep Walmart out of their neighborhoods. What a terrible idea to bring such a large,crappy and permanent resident in to an up and coming neighborhood. Indeed, it will cause a traffic nightmare and just attract more riffraff. Is this thing beyond turning around?

    • Matthew Riesner

      Just remember that Baltimore is not NYC, San Francisco, DC, or any other city. It is Baltimore. Baltimore does not have the wealth of those cities or the retail…last time I checked Baltimore City did not have a Macy’s, Norstrom’s, Lord and Taylor, Tiffany & Co, etc. For god sakes we barely have any middle of the road retail…where is our Sears? Penney’s, Bloomingdale’s? This city has created an abysmal retail environment in comparison to NYC and actively working to pick and choose what we get is only going to make it worse.

      • Andrew

        This will negatively impact businesses EVERYWHERE. What a terrible thing to do to the already struggling small business owners.

        • Matthew Riesner

          So what…you think the folks in your neighborhood are not already purchasing items at Walmart

          • Andrew

            So, if they are, they can keep going to that one. Why do we need another one? You present a Darwinian reasoning, survival of the cheapest. There are other things more important than shaving a few cents off purchases. A real, thriving economy needs our support. Walmart IS just vulture capitalism,

          • Matthew Riesner

            Andrew, if you don’t like it, don’t shop their…and if there is real support of not having this store around, others will not shop there as well and eventually they will shut down because it is not profitable. I don’t think shutting down the project before its built is a good idea because in that kind of business environment, investors become leary of making any initial investments, you spend tens of thousands on having meetings, obtaining permits, litigation, etc, before you can even break ground…We may shut down Walmart today but if word gets out that its impossible to make a go of a project we may be keeping out the next investor who could be bringing a Costco, a grocerty store, a department store, a shopping center that caters of small businesses, etc. The best way to deal with a company like Walmart is to vote with your dollars after it has been built.

          • Andrew

            I don’t shop there , on principle. After they put small businesses out of business and lower the overall value of the neighborhood, there is not much else left. Walmart is part of the urban blight problem. I don’t know why this is hard for you to see. It has nothing to do with where I like to shop. True long-term vision for the city means having a terrain that encourages entrepreneurship, which keeps money and expertise flowing in to the local economy. Just like the good ol’ days!
            There’s a HUGE qualitative difference between the big box stores and small locally owned ones. The latter favors us, the previous condemns our underclass to being wage slaves with no opportunity for self determination.

  • imariep

    What is the point of citizens paying years of staff time to develop a master “plan” to “direct …quality of life initiatives” and a new zoning code (“transform” baltimore—how, and for whom?), plus pay staff to oversee “that development proposals are . . . aesthetically pleasing, within the character of the respective neighborhood” when these objectives are essentially meaningless when it comes to development? Or to have a UDARP that is pretty much ignored? The widespread opinion that the political-financial developer/elected reps relationship is excessively intertwined is reinforced by what we see regarding the development approval “process.” This coziness results in a lack of progressive or human-friendly development in this City. Thank you Baltimore Brew for coverage of the conflicts that illuminate the fight that citizens throughout Baltimore have in common.

  • Andrew

    I don’t know if this is kosher, but I am going to copy and paste someone else’s perfect synopsis of why building a Walmart anywhere in our city is a terrible idea for our residents and local economy:

    Joshua Bornfield >Matthew Riesner

    • 2 days ago

    That is straight up not true. Communities all over the country allow their citizens the power to keep corporations out that the populations finds undesirable for one reason or another; this is how the Hamptons avoided getting completely monopolized by fast food restaurants.

    The reason that Walmart has become so successful is because they have predatory business practices on two levels. The first is an absence of labor equity, meaning that an employee who approaches full-time work has not only not been offered benefits, but also has not been allowed to take the final 2.5 hours in their full-time status because of the federal health insurance standards. This yields a gross yearly salary of $14,137.50, placing net earnings well below the poverty line. The other practice is market saturation by brand equity; open as many stores as possible and keep them all open, even if an individual store is unsuccessful. The people who don’t want a Wal-Mart in their backyard move away because of the sense of destitution it brings in its wake, or maybe because of memories they have of a time when America didn’t need Wal-Mart and those of the drastic change it brought to the our marketplaces and communities. Whatever the reason, those people leave. And they were the ones likely to start a local business that could pay more to its employees, but not with Wal-Mart there — a small business could never survive. What’s left behind is Wal-Mart and another house for rent, and that house gets filled with another group of people who have no problem with Wal-Mart.

    I haven’t shopped in one of those stores for 20 years. I remember my friends’ businesses closing one by one, and I remember when one day it wasn’t just teenagers working there, but adults with families, people with kids whose good jobs evaporated in the wake of the Waltons. I’m all for competitive business, but that — that’s not business. It’s imperialism. And though it will bring cheap, crappy clothes and cheap, crappy furniture and granola bars made from corrugated cardboard that are cheaper than the ones you find at OK Natural (or hell, even Safeway), it will likely also bring the closure of all the corner stores except 7-11 between Charles and 83, 22nd to Hopkins; most of the businesses on 25th street, and maybe the specialty art store on Howard and North — maybe. Now, you’ll be able to see all the angry destitute people in ours and our surrounding neighborhoods in one angry destitute place that is only injecting enough money into the community to bring in more drug dealers — I guarantee you there is no economic prosperity in this. Check their track record. The Waltons come to take, not to give.

  • Jane

    I live near this neighborhood and WE DO NOT WANT WALMART anywhere near us!!! Walmart is a terrible store and I am so upset that I’m gonna have to see this now in my neighborhood. Disgusting!

  • ushanellore

    Walmart is a heartless giant. In Mexico it built itself on historical Mayan edifices. It bulldozed its way into the heart of ancient sites and sat smugly over precious artifacts, bribing the corrupt local officials into compliance. Walmart thinks it is above the law. In India, despite heavy local opposition and many obstacles, it spread eagles its way through the rubble of the local economy. There will be no green space left in urban areas if Walmart is allowed to go where it wants. This store is a govt. unto itself. It is a narcissist that considers itself as essential as food and water to men. If the Walmarts of this world are allowed to proliferate untrammeled there will be no potable water and no food fit to eat for men. There will be nothing but concrete and run off from same to pollute our waterways and our fields.

  • Alexander Mitchell

    “When Condatore interjected that the windowless brick walls flanking the
    store’s entrance were meant to reflect and celebrate the historic
    Baltimore rowhouse, Bowden dismissed the effort as ‘fake’ and ‘an
    artificial gesture.’”

    This coming from the Land of Fake Stonework, Formstone. Pot…. kettle….. black.

    • ham_snadwich

      New formstone is illegal in Baltimore.

      • Matthew Riesner

        That’s what happens when you get a bunch of whinning yuppies in a room…no formstone, fines for using the wrong color of grout, etc… we have much worse things to worry about than the color/materials used to build a facade… just take a trip over to Washington St and North Avenue or Penn and Fulton or Walbrook, or North Avenue West of Coppin State, or Lower Park Heights, or SW, or Westport, etc.

        • ham_snadwich

          Sure, we should let people do whatever they want because there’s parts of the city in terrible condition. It’s not as if people are capable of doing more than one thing at once.

          • Matthew Riesner

            I would say that our city is incapable of doing more than 1 thing at a time…many of the areas are still messed up from the riots 50 years ago and are still sitting in terrible condition as we built the inner harbor, harbor east, gentified and yuppified a bunch of majority white neighborhoods, etc. Now we have a neighborhoods that have gentrified with a bunch of yuppies who are complaining about the facades of buildings which has lead to things like banning formstone…many of which have never stepped foot in the “other” Baltimore.

  • River Mud

    Excuse me, it’s a grape flavored tobacco cigar wrapper. Totally legitimate product.

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

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