A new $10 million Walmart Super Center is expected to bring more than 450 new jobs to Randallstown over the next few years, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Monday afternoon.
He chose the parking lot at a far end of the defunct Liberty Road Plaza Shopping Center at Liberty and Benbrook roads to announce that an aged promise to the community has been fulfilled—the development of the run-down plaza property, and the largest economic boon the community has had in years.
It was Valentine's Day, so Kamenetz tailored his vernacular for the day, and announced the "marriage of Centro Properties and Walmart," and the arrival of "that really good-looking Super Walmart."
"You know on Valentine's Day, you give a gift to the people you love. And since there is so much to love here in Randallstown, a simple box of chocolates, or even a renovated library, just won't do," he said, referring to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for $450,000 project that he celebrated about an hour earlier at the Randallstown Branch Library.
Not only will the development create about 100 construction jobs and 350 or more permanent jobs once the store opens in September 2012, but it is also expected to attract more retail businesses to a $2 million project that county and state legislators are pushing for at Liberty and Old Court roads, Kamenetz said.
At the plaza, after all of the existing buildings are demolished—in the strip that includes the store that was once Valu Food—Walmart will construct its 160,000-square-foot anchor store that is projected to open by September 2012 or even earlier, Kamenetz said.
Bobby Williams of Walmart also spoke at the event. "The store will look great, I'll tell you," he said, emphasizing the number of jobs the project will bring during an ailing economy. "This community looks like a fantastic community," he added.
An unexpectedly large crowd of about 150 people attended the event. They were mostly Randallstown residents, and also included county and state politicians and officials. The county had set up only 40 chairs in front of the podium.
Kamenetz emphasized his commitment to revitalizing the entire Liberty Road corridor, and said he has hired a special assistant to help the county accommodate the Walmart project. "We are not letting this fall by the wayside," he said.
Randallstown resident Michelle Minor said she moved to Randallstown from Baltimore City in March 1997, and she is thrilled that the shopping center she once frequented will open again.
"We always felt lost in comparison to Towson, Owings Mills," she said. "We always thought like we where the lost part of Baltimore County, the forgotten part of Baltimore County.
"When I moved out to the county, I thought I was moving out to a better community better stores, and a safer neighborhood," she said. She used to shop at Valu Food at the plaza, and at the Dollar General. "I watched each store close and it's just been heartbreaking seeing this shopping center deteriorating."
She heard about the announcement from a neighbor, and knew she had to attend the event. "This is a celebration," she said.
Long-time community activist Ella White said this is a development the community has wanted for years, and one that she has fought for over the years by attending county and state meetings. Kamenetz announced that White was present by calling her "The Queen of Liberty Road."
The new building will replace a strip of long-vacant stores at the rear of the shopping center. It will be located across from the strip that will continue to house Marshall's.
The Super Center will include a full grocery store, bakery, delicatessen, pharmacy and outdoor living department.
"We are pleased that yet another national retailer is investing in the strong consumer market along the Liberty Road corridor," said County Councilman Ken Oliver.
According to a news release from the county, among the recent additions to the Liberty Road Commercial Revitalization District is Liberty Center, a county government complex with classrooms opening soon for the Community College of Baltimore County, and offices for a Workforce Development Career Center, and the county Green Resource Center.
The $12 million Randallstown Community Center opened in 2009, featuring a YMCA swimming pool, full-court basketball court, computer labs and an arts theater.
Northwest Hospital, a major employer in the corridor, continues to expand its regional medical facilities.
The new WalMart Super Center brings the amount of private and public funds spent on revitalization along Liberty Road to $70 million, since 1999, Kamenetz said.