The conversation surrounding the closure of Mondawmin Mall Target doesn’t end with the national retailer’s jarring announcement from last week.
Councilman Leon Pinkett will host a community forum at Baltimore City Community College tonight to discuss what’s next. Reached by phone, his assistant, Monique Marshall, said representatives from the Baltimore Development Corporation and local development companies should also be in attendance. Pinkett wasn’t available for an interview Monday afternoon.
Target revealed its plans last week to shutter its West Baltimore location on Feb. 3, 2018. A company spokesperson told Baltimore Fishbowl in an email, “Typically, a store is closed as a result of seeing several years of decreasing profitability. This decision was not made lightly.”
Pinkett tweeted out an open invitation to the public meeting on Friday, also attaching a defiant, reflective letter about what the closure of the mall’s anchor store means to him.
Nearly a decade ago, Pinkett served as the assigned project manager for the mall’s renovation in 2008, when he was a development officer with the BDC. The quasi-public development agency at the time awarded more than $15 million in tax-increment financing bonds for Target to open a store at the West Baltimore shopping hub, which underwent a $70 million renovation.
“While development is only a piece of this complex puzzle, West Baltimore is in a far better place for a renaissance, a far better positional for a revival than it was 10 years ago when Target decided to call Mondawmin home,” wrote Pinkett, whose council district encompasses West Baltimore.
The surrounding area has since seen considerable development, even in the two-plus years since it was caught up in the firestorm of the Uprising. As The Sun’s Sarah Gantz noted Friday, the neighborhood has drawn developers with big plans, such as the planned Metro Heights apartment building across from the mall and the pending conversion of a nearby vacant lumber yard in Coppin Heights into a mixed-use retail and residential complex.
Mondawmin has also seen a bump in home sales and attracted new businesses and nonprofits. Target’s closure can’t take all of that progress away, Pinkett said.
“The present development activity in West Baltimore was not dependent on nor solely the result of Target or any other national retailer, and neither will the future of West Baltimore be beholden to the decisions of some executives in a Board Room in Minneapolis,” he wrote.
Still, questions remain about the future of the Target space. Del. Nick Mosby, who formerly served as councilman in Pinkett’s district, said via Twitter that Target owns the building and parking lot, which gives the city sparse negotiating power. The TIF bonds — at least a portion of them — must also be repaid.
Tonight’s community forum will take place in the Fine Arts Building at the BCCC campus, located at 2901 Liberty Heights Avenue. The meeting is set to start at 7 p.m.
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