In his time as Baltimore County executive, the most frequent conversation Kevin Kamenetz had with constituents in the northwest corridor centered on redevelopment of the former Owings Mills Mall site.
Kamenetz and representatives of Kimco Realty Corp., which owns the site, gathered with elected officials and community members Tuesday to provide some long-awaited information, announcing that Costco will anchor a $108 million open-air shopping center.
Though the mall was demolished last year after closing in 2015, a gleaming Kamenetz said the announcement was the culmination of a plan that had been nearly seven years in the making.
“I’m proud to tell you that I can finally check this off my list,” Kamenetz said, which drew cheers and applause from the crowd. “We finally got something done here, and we’re so proud.”
The project, known as Mill Station, will encompass 575,000 square feet and boast up to 30 retailers and restaurants, said Tom Simmons, president of Kimco’s Mid-Atlantic region.
Despite the uncertain future of brick-and-mortar retail, Simmons added, space at the shopping center has been highly coveted. The developer is in the final lease negations for renting out more than 350,000 square feet, and additional tenants are expected to be announced early next year.
Construction of the Costco, which will compromise 148,000 square feet, will begin early next year. The membership-based warehouse store is slated to open by the end of 2018, after less than 12 months of construction.
Additionally, the development’s existing AMC Theatre will be modernized, Simmons said.
The JT was the first to report in May that Costco would anchor the 45-acre development. The store will feature a deli, bakery, food court, garden center, optical department, photo center and gas station.
A combination of national, regional and local retailers are expected to occupy Mill Station, Simmons said, along with green space, pedestrian access and plenty of walking space.
“We believe the name pays tribute to the area’s history while at the same time providing a new and stable platform for growth and change,” Simmons said.
The mood was buoyant at the announcement, as County Councilman Julian Jones (D-District 4) credited Kamenetz and New York-based Kimco with helping to make the project a reality. He also expressed appreciation to area residents for their patience and confidence.
“We are very happy and fortunate that Kimco has decided to invest in our community, because to be quite frank, we’re a community that’s worth investing in,” Jones said. “We are a fantastic community. I’m excited to see what’s happening in Owings Mills.”
Kimco began demolishing the mall last year after it bought the remaining half of the property from General Growth Properties for $11.5 million. A few months later, the developer released renderings for the site that called for retail stores, ample parking and green space.
The concept of Mill Station follows a trend in retail toward a more immersive shopping experience — already seen in Owings Mills at venues such as Metro Centre at Owings Mills and Foundry Row.
Jones, who represents the Mill Station area, called the project the “third jewel” in Owings Mills’ Triple Crown of new development.
Neighboring Metro Centre has a cluster of shops, restaurants and apartments with more construction underway. A branch of the Baltimore County Public Library and the Owings Mills campus of the Community College of Baltimore County also operate there.
About a mile away is Foundry Row, where the sprawling $140 million mixed-use center opened last year. The 50-acre site is home to a Wegmans grocery store, as well as other stores, offices and restaurants.
Business leaders in favor of Mill Station expressed optimism about the future of the area’s business climate, saying Mill Station has the potential to lure quality tenants.
Jessica Normington, executive director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, said the addition of Costco and location of Mill Station, located off Interstate 795, will likely prove advantageous. She is especially looking forward to the debut of Costco, she said, since she has never frequented one.
“This will bring people in. It also helps Pikesville and Reisterstown, so we’re really excited,” Normington said. “In this community, people have to travel to go to Costco. The thing I always hear people say is how great Costco is, so I’m really excited for it to open.”
Larry Unger, an Owings Mills resident who is CEO and president of Maryland Public Television, also had nothing but good things to say about Mill Station’s potential. Unger, who sits on the Owings Mills Corporate Roundtable, said the project gives residents like him a reason to stay in the area to do their shopping.
“This is a huge coup,” Unger said. “We have been waiting for the mall to be redeveloped. We didn’t like it the way it was, and we think [Mill Station] is going to be a great thing for our community.”