Plans Emerge for new Town Center in Woodlawn

A month ago, the Baltimore Sun reported that developer Howard Brown of David S. Brown Enterprises announced plans for a new urban town center on land currently occupied by Security Square Mall (pictured above). The development would be similar to that of the Metro Centre at Owings Mills Transit Oriented Development (TOD) which is also a Brown project. Such a project would be mixed-use and include residential, retail, office, and hotel space.

Local architect and blogger Klaus Philipsen who is a resident of nearby Catonsville  attended the announcement and  provided his own analysis on the development. Security Square Mall was to be the site of a Red Line stop and Philipsen reported that Brown had initially intended for it to be a TOD, but Brown now wants it to be a “TOD just without the rail”. In his post, Philipsen describes how Security Square Mall has the potential to be a true urban transit-oriented town center like that of Clarendon in Arlington County.

We agree with Philipsen and Brown about the amazing potential of the Security Square Mall site. Security Square Mall is located in Woodlawn, home to the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, two of Baltimore County’s largest employers. Monday through Friday thousands of well paid, highly educated federal employees come to Woodlawn for work. At $65,674, Woodlawn’s median household income is very close to the Baltimore County median income of 68,775. Yet the area is not known as a destination for shopping or as a desirable place to live.

Furthermore, the site has good transit access. Under the new Baltimore Link system seven different bus lines will come close to or into Security Square Mall. This includes the CityLink Blue Line which will provide frequent service 24 hours a day. Both the developer and the County should work to take advantage of this excellent transit service. One obvious thought is to reduce the number of parking spots on site in order to encourage the use of transit. The development should include incentives for transit service for employees and residents.

Furthermore, the area surrounding the mall is a TOD design disaster. The roads are wide and designed for cars to go fast and buildings tend to be set back from the street making it unfriendly for pedestrians. For this development to reach its full potential, the County should take a close look at the roads surrounding the area and work to make them friendlier for pedestrians. Implementing the recommendations of Baltimore County’s Western County Pedestrian Plan for the area would be a great start.

This development has the potential to transform Woodlawn from a mess of strip malls and office parks into an accessible community where people of all generations want to live. We hope Baltimore County and the developer choose to take full advantage this project’s location and create something that will bring positive investment into the area and create a sense of place for all who live, work. or visit the area.

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Gregory Friedman

Gregory Friedman

This article was written by Gregory Friedman. Click here to meet our writing team.

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