Glen Burnie's Not-So-Super Block

September 08, 1994

The unending saga of Glen Burnie's Superblock has more twists and turns than a daytime soap. After 14 years of seemingly constant planning, the revitalization project is no closer to realization than on Day One. The latest plan stalled after Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall declined to provide $2.2 million in financial aid to the developer, George W. Stone Inc. of Pasadena.

The original Superblock plan, adopted in 1980, called for construction of 200,000 square feet of office and retail space plus a five-level parking garage on a 5.6-acre parcel off Ritchie Highway, near Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. The county pieced together the tract because it considered it crucial for the revitalization of Glen Burnie's historic commercial heart.

By the time the Stone company submitted its proposal last January, that vision had changed. Instead of insisting on strictly commercial use, the county wanted a mixed-use development. Stone's project, estimated to have cost up to $12 million, would have combined condominiums and office space in a concept untried in Anne Arundel County outside of Annapolis, according to Pat Barland, the county's urban renewal program manager.

The price tag was so steep, however, Stone felt it needed county help. Mr. Neall decided that "at this time, the county possesses ++ neither the financial resources nor the justification to continue our negotiations" with the developer.

This is a disappointing conclusion. Frankly, though, no one ought to be surprised. It was evident that the Superblock plan might be headed for trouble when the county only received one development proposal for the site eight months ago instead of several that had been hoped for.

Now what? Probably nothing for a while. After Anne Arundel elects a new county executive in November, a renewed attempt ought to be made to redevelop the land. In the end, the county may have to invest some of its money in the project also. The lesson from 14 years of repeatedly --ed hopes is that the Superblock site, centrally located though it is, is not a very desirable one. It may be too busy for residential use, not accessible enough for commercial use. Major retailers have increasingly concentrated along Ritchie Highway's malls and strip centers or in huge warehouse stores off Ordnance Road.

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