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Perry Hall community groups concerned over plans to turn Sears store into apartments

WBAL TV Baltimore logo WBAL TV Baltimore 12/5/2022 David Collins
community reacts to plans to turn sears store into apartments © Provided by WBAL TV Baltimore community reacts to plans to turn sears store into apartments

A closed Sears store in White Marsh has a new owner who wants to build a 516-unit apartment complex in its place, but community groups are concerned about the project and the increased traffic and school overcrowding it could bring.

People told 11 News they are just now learning about the pending plans. Residents want more input and more details on what the developer has in mind.

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"Yes, it is a good location, but it has to be done correctly," said Pat Keller, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association.

Keller is talking about a controversial proposal that caught many residents by surprise.

A developer wants to tear down the closed Sears department store building at White Marsh Mall and replace it with more than 500 apartments. The area is already zoned residential, but the idea is being met with skepticism.

"That is not a good idea at all. I do not like it at all. The mall needs to be a mall," said Cely, a Nottingham resident who did not want to give her last name.

The mall is nearly 40 years old and is one of the largest in the region with six anchor stores and 134 specialty shops. Still, some people feel malls will soon be a thing of the past.

"I think malls are going to be obsolete soon. So, I think eventually, this will all be vacant. Maybe not soon, but in the distant future. I don't know whether building an apartment complex there is a good idea, but I would love to see more gyms, something like that which will build up a community," said Megan Trionfo, a Nottingham resident.

According to the apartment concept design, it will be a four-story building with a mix of studios, one-bedroom and three-bedroom units. Diagrams show ample parking, a pool and an outdoor recreation area.

"It's good because it makes the mall grow more," said Mary Thuku, a Nottingham resident said.

But community groups have a number of concerns such as possible school overcrowding, longer hospital emergency room wait times and an increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

"One of the things we expressed to the developer: There has to be a good pedestrian connection because people will be crossing a lot of roads and they will not get into their cars they will walk," Keller said.

Construction will happen in two phases. The developer will do a traffic engineer impact study and school impact analysis. Residents will have an opportunity to provide input before final plans are submitted in a year.

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