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.

The five raised hands of the aldermen Thursday meant the elected officials were dropping the vision that some residents in the room worked so long and so hard to create, said Kai Hagen, executive director of Envision Frederick County.

Residents worked with city officials for more than a year to develop the Golden Mile Small Area plan, a vision for the area.

A Wal-Mart on the site — no matter the conditions — does not fit the principles of the plan, Hagen said, which are walkable, connected, vibrant, safe, complete, attractive and sustainable.

“It is reasonable for city residents and others who invested a lot of time and effort into that plan to now question how the plan will be adhered to as a guide for development and redevelopment in the area," said Hagen, who lives near Thurmont.

Residents may be upset about the city's decision, but they probably have no way to appeal it, he said, because the plan is more of a guide than a law.

Many residents, though, are relieved that something will become of the mall property.

To Eugene Shaulis, of Braddock Heights, who was shopping at Home Depot on Friday, the vacant mall is an eyesore, and a constant reminder of what was.

“It's depressing,” he said. “We used to bring the kids here to see Santa Claus.”

The board made a good decision, said Ann McGovern, who lives downtown but often shops in the mall area to avoid traffic.

“It's about time,” McGovern said.

But John Command, who lives near the mall, believes the city needs more variety, not more Wal-Marts.

"A new mall would bring more stores — more variety," he said.

Roni and Alejandra Angel agree.

"We would like to see something done," Roni Angel said. "Just not a Wal-Mart. I don't see how that would improve the area."

When voting, a few aldermen acknowledged that the plan may not be what everyone wanted.

Alderwoman Shelley Aloi said she didn't know if the city would ever get plan that was “100 percent perfect for everyone.”

The plan met the minimum requirements of the small area plan, Alderman Michael O'Connor said Thursday.

For some, the issue is not with the developer's plan, but with the fact that the land will now be marked only for commercial use.

The city should be attempting to diversify its economy, not limiting it with general commercial use, said Josh Bokee, of Frederick.

“The question is, as we go forward, do we envision the Golden Mile always being a retail corridor, or do we want to encourage a range of services that could benefit folks?” Bokee asked.

Rockwood Capital's plan not only fits with the small area plan, it helps make it happen, said David Severn, attorney for the developer.

When residents started creating the small area plan in 2011, Severn warned them that their mixed-use vision might not be reasonable.

The company was already planning to turn the land into commercial-only space, he told them at the time. The mixed-use center they thought up was too hard to finance.

“It's not happening ... from an economic point of view,” he said at the time.

Businesses in the area were grateful to hear the news Friday.

“I say go for it,” said Tina Poole, manager of Doc Geiser's, a restaurant on McCain Drive. “I think it's a great thing. It will put a lot of jobs in there for people.”

Poole said the new development will bring more traffic to the business.

The decision will drive traffic and business to the area, said Anita Burke, owner of the Thrift Angel store.

Unfortunately, Burke said, the decision comes too late for her.

Burke may close down Thrift Angel — it's not making money, and she doesn't have time to wait for Wal-Mart, she said.

“I hope they get their act together and make decisions sooner to help other businesses.”

(47) comments

hsduofmd

i dont get the traffic argument.....i thoughtt he idea was to bring people here? if other stores came in wouldnt they attract cars? it sounds like walmart haters or just people wanting to complain about anything. if not a wal mart then what? who else is in line to open shop?? anyone?? if the old mall was still booming where would those cars go, would you propose theyd lose due to traffic? where else is there a six lane road in frederick serving a retail center?

emuumuumuu

A large number of the 'concerns' about Walmart are in reality, just thinly veiled classist attitudes. People howl about how Walmart will kill mom n pop stores, yet they squeal with glee at the thought of high end corporate behemoths moving in. whole foods to kill common market, cabelas to suck the life out of the trail house, etc etc. Its an interesting bit of cognitive dissonance, really..

Street92

Wake up, people! The Golden Mile is no longer golden! The luster began to fade about a decade ago and the area is now in a steep decline. The notion that a specialty or high-end retailer would want to open shop there is ridiculous. The demographics of Rt 40 West have changed, with Hillcrest and Key Parkway becoming notorious crime and drug hot-spots. Walmart is the only viable option; the alternative being a derelict eyesore. I believe Walmart will do well there, but it will not save the Golden Mile from further decay. More businesses, such as K-Mart, will close as the area continues to adjust to its new reality.

dbjanda1

Is WalMart worse than the 'blight', non revenue producing taxes there now ???...I doubt it...For ALL the NAYSAYERS, do you always get what you want ???....Be honest !!!...Me

usgov

Blaming Walmart for Frederick's inability to attract opulent retailers the past decade at the FTM is asinine, what's the logic in bashing the only suitor willing to purchase your dead mall?

rscott25

The only thing more asinine is your ignorance. The owner's at the time deliberately were "kicking" tenants out because of their designs to sell condos and apartments., by not renewing leases. Anyone out here knows that. Ollies presented a problem as well, due to the terms of their lease.

wzyq104

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement (R) and the Board of Aldermen have just thrown their careers into the toilet, as they fail to understand "variety" when it comes to area shopping and entertainment. Who knows what their next jobs might be?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdA-XEsKQpQ

darththevader

Did you see "variety" lining up to be there? Neither did anyone else.

Maybe you will now that Walmart will be there to attract shoppers

rscott25

The Golden Mile became a disastor when the owner's there tried to put in housing, but except, it is in a flood plain. They deliberately killed the Mall by never renewing leases, in order to put in condos. What is really needed are some actual supermarkets. We lost 2 in my 20 years out here, with SFW and Giant leaving. ANd they have have been "prepping" this one on Giant's old site for what seems like a year. WHich is why I am suspicious of this Wal-Mart eventually becomng a Super sized. I don't have anything personal against Wal-mart, but they will do little to revitalize this end of town, except create traffic congestion.

dragondancer1814

It's not just the traffic congestion that will be a problem-it'll be the fact that Walmart also rakes in the profits hand over fist but is still too stingy to pay their employees a living wage! They say it'll be bringing more jobs to the region, but they fail to mention those jobs don't even pay enough for a SINGLE person to be able to keep themselves in ramen and rent, much less someone trying to raise a family! There are already TWO Walmarts in Frederick-there is no NEED for another one! What the Golden Mile needs is what the residents wanted-a place with mom-and-pop shops, easy foot access, and genuine character and sustainability! Worse, a Walmart here will drive the other stores further up the Mile, such as Kmart and Petco, out of business, and the Mile has already lost two grocery stores, movie theaters, and several restaurants!

Does the word "clusterbonk" mean ANYTHING to these planners? Apparently not!

darththevader

Same tired argument that has nothing to do with zoning.

What does Kmart pay? Pep Boys? Giant Eagle? What does McDonalds pay? Ask the high school student making fries about his pension plan there. Anybody trying to raise a family on entry level wages made poor life choices. Why aren't you crying about every retailer in the City, County, State, Country?

Entry level jobs pay entry level pay

emuumuumuu

SFW was replaced by Aldi several years ago. There is also Giant Eagle, which is one of the better grocery stores in the area IMO.

rscott25

Putting a Walmart n will be a disastor. Anyone think of the impact on Bozcov's and Home Depot when they put a competitor in there? Brilliant...NOT. SO now we will have to more empty shell's. Not to mention the traffic, which is so congested out here it is not funny. We have a Walmart easily accessible from this side of town, and it the Supersized. It actually takes less time to go down Butterfly Lane and the backway, then it is to get from McCain to Rt 15 because of the nitwits programming the lights. This will be a cluster F tthat will only cost the city.

darththevader

See all the suffering retail on 85 and 26 because of Walmart?

Neither do I

emuumuumuu

People keep saying this, yet Kohls, Best Buy, and AC Moore have done fine despite being in the same shopping center as the FSK Walmart. Same deal with Giant across the street from the Walkersville Walmart. Why would it be any different on the Golden Mile?

4real4real

I could think of many other stores besides Walmart. Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shop, Trader Joes, Chick fil a. Taco Bell would thrive in this area. Just sayin!

rscott25

pssst, there is already a Taco Bell here.

darththevader

Maybe make it a petting zoo, blah, blah, blah.

Where are they?? Just because you think it would be better doesn't mean they want to be there. And you would STILL have to change the zoning

emuumuumuu

There is already a Taco Bell on the Golden Mile. And all these pipe dreams are great and all, but again.. none of the stores you mention are interested. And do you blame them, really?

darththevader

Kai Hagen is irrelevant. Funny how he always talks about everything being walkable when he lives on a mountain and drives everywhere

NASCARLOVER

Can't wait for the Grand Opening[beam]

catcher

You say that as if there weren't two other Walmarts in the city for you to go to right now. Perhaps you weren't aware of them?

The city has blown the chance to do something special here, and it's taken the easy out. At least we have Alderman Michael O'Connor's stirring endorsement that all of this meets "the minimum requirements of the small area plan." That's what made America great -- meeting the minimum requirements!

watson4sherlock

When residents started creating the small area plan in 2011, Severn warned them that their mixed-use vision might not be reasonable.

It was the owners of the mall who requested the rezoning in 2007 so they could cash in on the booming housing market then lost their developer for the renovation that was to be complete in 2008. Had the residents had other zoning options available in 2011 perhaps they would have come up with a different small area plan. Why didn't the mall owner ask for zoning change in 2011?

Mall owners are disengaged vampire squids from NY. The shuttered shops were probably a better tax write-off than whatever profit from healthy businesses.

watson4sherlock

Rockwood Capitol is a corporation registered in Delaware with offices in San Francisco and not registered in Maryland as a foreign corporation doing business in the state. There is current a case pending in Prince Georges County dismissing without prejudice Rockwood Capital as a defendent. There are two closed cases from 2007 and 2009.

See http://www.rockwoodcap.com/

For Maryland entity search.
See http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/UCC-Charter/CharterSearch_f.aspx

rscott25

They could not get the rezoning then because the parking lot is a flood zone.

dragondancer1814

LOL @ disengaged vampire squids-I LIKE that one! I always called developers "land rapists," but your term for mall owners fits developers even better!

president8444

Lucylucy I see your back bad mouthing Blaine you just can not get over the democrat loss. Poor soul are you, a real hater amomg us. Oh where were all these complainers who did not shop at the Frederick town mall. GONE,now anti commentsI think Walmart is a gift house, my opinion,not your anti everything good for us.Lucylucy loses again.A real loser.

rscott25

You are ignorant of what went down. The owners that bought it in the early 2000's refused to renew leases. Many relocated on the G Mile. They wanted to empty it so they could build apartments.

kingoffrederick

Is that you Blaine?

watson4sherlock

Housing prices didn't drop because the mall owners chose to change to one month leases and drive their retailers out in anticipation of a renovation for a zoning change the mall owners requested. There was a housing crisis in this country.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index was up 12.1% in April, compared to a year ago, in the 20 top real estate markets across the nation. That was the biggest annual jump in prices in seven years. Prices climbed 2.5% from March, posting the biggest one-month rise in the 12-year history of the index.

See http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/25/news/economy/housing-recovery/index.html

rscott25

Hmmm, as I recall, alot of this went down when Jennifer tore down all of John Hanson, and was looking for resettlement.

watson4sherlock

Walmart has a deli which sells fried chicken among other things. Everyone who thinks it will be great for business should make it known. That way when the competition drives them out of business they won't be able to complain.

RIGHTonline

Bring it! Anything to help those of us who still own homes in the area that need values to come back. Besides, most of the people who want to biotch about Walmart shop there anyway.

LucyLucy

Yeah but Walmart is not a gift horse...we the taxpayers become the gift horse to Walmart you have it backward NewtoFC

Also you should stay-tuned to the Shame the Blaine Campaign for the back story on Karen Young as Ron's freshman politician wife, she comes with her own interesting and colorful story line. Seems Blaine has spilled the beans on his step mommy.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shame-the-Blaine-Campaign/489681077776883

stuckon270

Again you attack Wal-Mart for taking tax dollars both directly and indirectly while most big retailers do the same thing, including your beloved Target.
http://gawker.com/5889767/a-former-target-team-leader-explains-hiring-firing-and-staying-union+free. or Maybe this http://www.topix.com/forum/com/tgt/T3R7ARR8L9DC81BEF.. But hey continue on your Wal-Mart rants while promoting coupons at the beloved Target. For the record I shop at both Wal-Mart and Target.

LucyLucy

I don't give a rats ass where you shop at 270 and ONCE AGAIN you missed my point, there is BIG difference between Target and Walmart and I am getting tired of trying to explain them. I NEVER said I LOVED Target I said that if you or anyone does not want to spend their dollars at Walmart and still wants to shop at a Walmart like store, Target gives 5% cash back...something I doubt we will ever see Walmart offer.

I caught some flack here recently when I expressed a very common attitude: I won't shop at Wal-Mart due to their well known labor problems, but I love to shop at Target.

Is there really any moral difference between shopping at the two big box stores? Or is it just that Isaac Mizrahi and Jovovich-Hawk blind us to the store's values?

Here is how the two stores stack up:

Both have fought off employee unionization efforts, so far with 100 percent success in the United States. Target employees are shown an anti-union video as part of their orientation.
Neither store pays a living wage. A 2005 newspaper article quotes the United Food and Commercial Workers, which had tried to organize some Target workers, saying that wages and health plans at the two stores are similar, but Target's plan is more restrictive. "We feel they are worse than Wal-Mart because they are masquerading as this benign employer," said Bernie Hesse, a UFCW leader, in a Fortune piece published this month.
Both Target and Walmart use factories with poor human rights records.
Both stores present obvious environmental problems with all the packaging used, etc. Both have initiatives to improve their record in this area; Wal-Mart's promises go farther, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
With their low prices, both stores have the effect of putting smaller, more specialized and often locally owned retailers out of business.

There are plenty of reasons in there to justify boycotting both chains. However, there are also arguments for focusing on just one store: A boycott of one store is more effective. People have to buy things someplace, and for many, especially those outside urban areas, that someplace is going to be a big box store. A boycott is an easier sell if it isn't an undue burden on those who are asked to participate.

And if just one store is chosen, Wal-Mart is the obvious choice. Although both companies have labor problems, it's Wal-Mart that has shown in legal cases to abuse its workers by coercing them to put in unpaid overtime, and its Wal-Mart that faces a class action lawsuit on discrimination against female employees (Target was found guilty in an EEOC suit on racial discrimination in Wisconsin stores).

Wal-Mart's rap sheet at Co-Op America is as long as my arm, much longer than Target's. It's true that as a larger and higher profile company, Wal-Mart has been the subject of more scrutiny, but still -- there are many more documented reasons to avoid Wal-Mart than Target.

http://www.wisebread.com/is-target-really-just-as-bad-as-wal-mart

UNDERSTAND 270?

dragondancer1814

Those reason you listed and many others are why Walmart has already been on my boycott list for YEARS. If I need to shop somewhere, Kmart and Target are the better options for me and my family.

darththevader

Just what is a "living wage"? Isn't that when someone makes life choices and gets the education to make a living at doing something?

rbtdt5

Lucy, you I have never seen anyone so full of hate.

LucyLucy

Then you haven't been paying attention....sucks to be you.

CredibleWitness

Frederick Town Mall is not the entire Golden Mile. It is an important anchor position, and now that position has been solidified by the decision to build a Walmart, which will join Boscov's and Home Depot as long-term businesses at that end.

The rest of the Golden Mile is still there and is just as important, and there is still an urgent need to implement the goals of the Golden Mile Small Area Plan, which includes creating a "walkable, connected, vibrant, safe, complete, attractive and sustainable" corridor along Route 40.

Seems to me the work has just started. Hopefully those who say they are committed to the Golden Mile will accept the reality of Walmart at FTM and continue to work hard to reshape the entire Golden Mile rather than walk away because they only got okay instead of perfect.

watson4sherlock

...they only got okay... Perfect is not achievable but couldn't we have something a little better than okay?

quemzeee2

This decision is exactly why alot of us did not bother joining the study groups about this project. It was already a done deal.
This act typifies what is wrong with Frederick. There is no point in attempting non short goal items here with the current admin.
Josh Bokee, is totaly on the mark. This is an embarasment long term to this entire end of the city.
Oh yah. you will here alot of persons loving this decision,,,, that do not live in the direct proximitry.

newtofc

No body but Walmart wants to invest in the mall area people! Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

watson4sherlock

The Trojan House was a gift. Sometimes you need to look a gift horse in the mouth to see what's hiding inside.

watson4sherlock

Considering the proponents for the Walmart have to downgrade the Golden Mile to a wasteland it's no wonder there are no other offers. What is in it for them?

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