Baltimore Wal-Mart May Add Perk

In a move worthy of an Onion headline, a Wal-Mart will be built this year on top of a Lowes in Baltimore. Both big-box stores will anchor the development at the 25th Street Station in Remington. And amazingly, you might be able to live there, too.

The development is an usual arrangement. Rather than side-by-side construction the Lowes store will be mostly underground and Wal-Mart will be perched on top. The Wal-Mart will be about 93,000 square feet – smaller than most of its other superstore national locations. It will also feature a green roof covering more than an acre in size in the middle of the city (probably not much of a trade off for its 1,050 parking spots on eleven-and-a-half acres).

But most unusual? The megastore could be your next landlord – Wal-Mart is taking cues from apartment developers and will be offering 80 to 90 residences on site. Predictably, the reactions are mixed…

Those who are opposed to sprawl development applaud the in-fill, urban development. Writes Landscape+Urbanism “in the comparison to the normal sprawling model of big-box stores, this seems to take a step in the right direction”.

And location is key. This Wal-Mart location will be within walking distance of several neighborhoods: Charles Village, Remington, Station North and the Old Goucher Historic District. The Baltimore-Sun says that Wal-Mart polled 500 people in the area and 77% viewed the move favorably. Says M.J. “Jay” Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s quasi-public development arm, “It’s an indication of increasing retail interest in the city.” Indeed, they expect other retailers to set up shop nearby.

As for actually living in residences at the 25 Street Station, adjacent to Wal-Mart, plans are unclear. Calls were not returned by Kann Partners about the residential portion of the plan by the developer WV Urban Developments LLC.

Joan Floyd, president of the Remington Neighborhood Alliance tells The Baltimore Sun that the surrounding neighborhoods are filled with Wal-Mart shoppers.

Others are not so sure. Megan Hamilton, a nearby resident, is concerned about the additional traffic the Wal-Mart/Lowes will bring. “I think that people haven’t processed that yet,” Hamilton told The Baltimore Sun. As for Walmart, she said, “Some of my neighbors think it’s great. Some of my neighbors think it’s appalling.”

The move into Baltimore reflects Wal-Mart’s plans to move into city markets.

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