A plan released in January by Anne Arundel County outlined big changes for downtown Glen Burnie, including a new art installation, safer roads and crossings and, perhaps the highest of all, a development to replace a number of government buildings and a bailout courtyard with housing and retail. This development is coming to the area soon, the county announced last week.
The Michaels Organization, a real estate development group with properties in more than 35 states, will transform the county-owned 13-acre lot at 7409 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. into a mixed-use development that will include apartments, lofts, townhouses and commercial space.
The New Jersey-based company was among three finalists reviewed by a team of county executive Steuart Pittman’s administration officials after the county began soliciting bids for the contract about six months ago.
“The Michaels organization has really put together a great mixed-use project that has a lot of public benefits, community amenities [and] a stronger retail presence along B&A Boulevard than the other proposals,” said Matt Power, chief administrative officer of Pittman, who was part of the review team.
“There’s been a movement to shut down light rail and I’ve always said we need more public transit, not less, and if more people use it it will be safer,” Pittman said. . “It can really spur the kinds of development that get cars off the road, the kind of development that millennials are looking for.”
The development will have a positive ripple effect in the area, Pittman said, including hopefully reducing crime at the nearby light rail stop by creating a livelier downtown nearby.
The most exciting part of the project is revitalizing what is otherwise mostly vacant land, said Anne Arundel County Councilman Allison Pickard, who represents Glen Burnie.
“There is a lot of really impressive potential [in the area] if we just remove the barriers,” Pickard said.
Glen Burnie’s downtown revitalization plan is part of a county-wide project to redevelop three areas near transit hubs, including Parole and Odenton, to add density and create neighborhoods where families can “live, work and play” without needing a car, according to the County Planning and Zoning Office.
“It’s on the B&A trail. People who live there can cycle to Annapolis. They can take a train and go to Baltimore. They can go to downtown Glen Burnie and have dinner and drinks,” Pittman said. “I consider this site really important to show other developers that it works.”
However, not everyone is thrilled with the development. The project will likely mean that a church, God’s Perfect Will Ministries, located in one of the county’s buildings on the 13 acres, will have to move as the area is leveled to prepare for construction.
Much more than a non-denominational church, it arranges funerals and weddings for those who cannot afford them, helps residents pay rent and mortgages, collects school supplies for children in need, and works generally with black and low-income communities in Glen Burnie for the past seven years, Pastor Terry Allen said.
The building was “tattered like a bowl of potted stones” when it arrived there, Allen said, but the community built it up over time and invested in it to become a valuable community asset. About 50 worshipers come to church services each week while nearly 300 log on online. At times, up to 700 people watch the church videos on TikTok, Allen said. People come from all over the region to avail of its services.
“We let people know we wanted to stay here,” he said. “Now they’re telling us to get out.”
The church’s lease ends early next year and those at the church always knew it was a temporary location, Pittman said.
“They are doing a great job and we will do everything we can to help them find another location,” he said.
The project isn’t finalized yet, but one thing the county knows for sure is that the development will have at least some affordable housing, Power said.
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The first step in the new development is an environmental study that is currently underway to assess remediation needs on the property before construction begins, Power said. Then the county and the Michaels organization will reach out to the community for feedback and suggestions on the project.
One of the elements of the revitalization plan included the redesign of Rotary Park at the corner of Crain Expressway and B&A Boulevard. Pittman, Pickard and others cut the park’s ribbon last month and finished with original artwork by Anne Arundel Community College public art students.
Art students Jenny Thomas and Anna Broomfield, led by Professor Matt Klos, painted poles around the park. The artwork took about five months from conception to completion after the county approached the students to create the artwork last fall.
“We knew we wanted to add some color to it,” Klos said, adding that they decided to match the color scheme on the poles with the colors of the mural across the street that the Community college students had performed a few years earlier. “[Thomas] came up with these little illustrative characters, just sort of everyday scenes showing a range of different people from different backgrounds. She’s from Glen Burnie, so a lot of her ideas came from her local community.
Klos students will hopefully be back at Glen Burnie next spring to create more public art, he said. It’s a win-win situation for students and the community – students got paid, learned how to create public art from scratch, and got to beautify their neighborhood, while residents got to enjoy the outdoors. art, he said. The county invested approximately $1,500 in the project to pay artists and cover the cost of supplies.
“People seem to like him a lot,” Klos said.