Poll: Should the Rotunda Keep Indoor Shopping?

The Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel is scheduled to review plans for the project on Thursday.

On Thursday the Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel will plans for the redevelopment of the Rotunda mall.

During the first review, panel member M.J. "Jay" Brodie and Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke about the plans to remove indoor shopping at the mall and instead have all retail on the building’s exterior.

But Hekemian & Co., the mall’s owner, expressed surprise about the suggestion, and was reluctant to maintain the interior shopping of the current mall.

Patch wants to know what you think.

ralahinn1 August 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I think they should keep it. I think both the shops and the patrons would be safer with indoor shopping
Marjorie Goodman August 13, 2012 at 01:29 PM
No! Open it up! It literally needs fresh air Have fantastic shops and restaurants. Keep an emblematic feature of the historic building. Make it pedestrian and eco-friendly. The developers have the right idea.
JRO August 13, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Probably not. It always seemed like wasted space in there. I never felt like it was any safer in there vs. being outside.
Bawlmore Hon August 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Have you been there recently to see the demographic that now frequents the rotunda? Rite Aid has been making complaints to management due to an increase in shoplifting. I don't want to point any fingers or anything, but ever since the prices have gone cheaper at the cinema the sophistication of the crowd has gone downhill. I think they need to figure out a way to make it safer inside (increased security perhaps) and fill the empty spaces (with something other than more auditoriums for the cinema). It would be a shame to direct traffic out of the mall area.
Cat Walker August 13, 2012 at 04:56 PM
A high-end market to replace Giant can't open soon enough. The Rotunda is way behind the times and with Hampden growing (Food Market, Luigi's, 16 Tons, etc.) and Roland Park close by there is no reason the Rotunda should be so run down. Shame on the local legislators and Hekemian & Co. I bought my house in Hampden in 2008 with the caveat that there would be a Hunt Valley-esque type of renovation at the Rotunda that featured a new movie theater, high-rise condos, outdoor shopping, the whole nine. There was even a website devoted to it. What happened?
Adam Bednar (Editor) August 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Cat, as I'm sure you are aware, the economy tanked and made it impossible for Hekemian to get the financing it needed for the project. The current redevelopment proposal is scaled back, particularly on the residential end, no 22-story apartment/condo building. But much of the retail that was originally proposed is included in the new plans.
Lucy R August 13, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I have tremendous respect for Mary Pat Clarke, but I think she and Mr. Brodie are way off-base on this one: I don't think they have the expertise or the standing to dictate to the developer the best way to redesign the center. (It was also off-base for them to bring it up during the meeting the way they did - per the City website "While attendance is open to the public and members of the press, their attendance is to observe. If a stakeholder group would like to advise the Panel of their concerns, it is encouraged to submit a written statement in advance of the meeting date for its timely distribution to Panel members.") I do think it was appropriate for the Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel to say that "they want to see a design that would increase the redeveloped Rotunda’s accessibility and connectivity to the Hampden neighborhood," but it's up to Hekemian to figure out how to do that in a way that they consider to be workable and economically feasible. I think this type of attempted micromanagement is one reason the city is seen as less that business-friendly, and discourages the type of solid redevelopment that we sorely need.
k harris August 13, 2012 at 08:27 PM
"I don't think they have the expertise or the standing to dictate to the developer the best way to redesign the center." agreed. i see this problem over and over in Baltimore development, transportation, etc. The facts are out there about what works. City planning more and more becoming a science. We can't let uninformed citizens and council members' gut-instincts override informed and smart planning.
J.C. Greenberg August 13, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I think the developer has the best idea of what would work for the space - and what they can lease. Opening it up and increase the foot traffic would alleviate any concerns about security.
lana August 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The developer has done strip malls all up and down the east coast. If you want another strip mall (or hunt valley) move there. I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask our neighbor (who will be profiting from being next to us) not to wall us off (stores only face in, only one way in and out of the property, peds/bikes compete with cars for access). Part of that includes making it so we dont have to stand in snow or sun while waiting for cars/transport. Only designing for 25-55 yo able bodied car driving public is an insult and BAD URBAN DESIGN. It is completely right for the architectural design review committee to question this. Hekemian is lying to say this concern is new.
John Lorch August 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Security? I've never felt unsafe at the Rotunda, and I was just there on Sunday.
William Bull August 15, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I agree. The Rotunda needs to make a bold change in order to remain viable, but Baltimore in general likes to play safe. Mary Pat and the old timers at Keswick, God love 'em, want things to improve, but also to stay the same. The Rotunda has for a long time felt like entering a bomb shelter. It's not a pleasant shopping experience to go there. I run in, get what I need and then back out. Studies show that opening shops toward the outside and natural light creates not just more visibility, but also a more dynamic inviting experience. I also believe that the sub-basement, cave like feel of the current "mall", actually may lead to more crime and general loitering. Personally I am skeptical of change for change's sake, but in this case I believe that the Rotunda must make a radical shift in it's physical presence, or it's destined to keep struggling and see more shops decide to close up and move on.
Andre Stone August 15, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I think it's a no-brainer: suburban-style malls with inward-facing shops are going bankrupt and closing down all over the country. New "lifestyle centers," such as Hunt Valley Towne Center and the Avenue at White Marsh, are designed with outward-facing stores, just like a traditional Main Street (the Avenue), and are thriving. So the choice is really simple: politicians who are out of touch with reality force the developers to keep the enclosed mall feel and support a failed business model, OR allow the experts to redevelop the property using a proven success formula and watch the Rotunda thrive.
vickie gray August 15, 2012 at 07:18 PM
It's nice to see so many comments from concerned neighbors. I've been patronizing the Rotunda for over 30 years and feel sad to see how run down it's become. I don't care one way or the other whether shops are inside or outside. We are missing an opportunity to revitalize a beloved landmark that will provide housing, entertainment and badly needed retail variety for our neighborhood. I agree with those who say let the developers move forward with their plans. They've been patient for many years when others would have simply thrown in the towel when the economy tanked.
k harris August 15, 2012 at 07:18 PM
this stuff about people standing outside in the snow and the sun is pretty silly. as if there's no alternative other than to maintain an unsuccessful model in the face of increasing loads of evidence about what works. just do a google search with keywords such as malls urban design. tons of reading. here's some: http://placeshakers.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/designing-regional-urban-retail-centers-lessons-from-the-mall-and-beyond/ I'd like to see all these studies about how its impossible to shelter people from the snow while also implementing strategic long-term retail planning.
Cat Walker August 15, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Andre is 100% correct. The Rotunda feels like a basement. Even the shops at Greenspring Station feel dark and dingy. It is not new and fresh. Look at how well new ideas do in this area. The Food Market and 13.5 are jammed every night as well as the Corner BYOB. The area of Roland Park/Hampden/Wyman Park is screaming for a fresh new area like the one proposed. I can't believe issues like standing in the snow and security is holding this great idea up.
Joyce Krause August 15, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Agree with that one John, Hopkins have so many cameras. I would love to have a security job there!
Joyce Krause August 15, 2012 at 09:45 PM
We need another grocey store for sure. I had spoke to the seniors including my 84 year old mom. She is so afraid when she goes to Giant's because of crossing 40th. Street and Roland Ave.
JAM August 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
The only stores I go to at the mall are the big ones where I can park outside their door - go in and get what I want. I never walk around the inside of a mall anymore. I like being able to see the store I want and get to it easily - I shop at Marshall's and Target at Mondawmin but I never go in for the other stores.
JAM August 17, 2012 at 02:57 PM


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