The owners of the Edmondson Village Shopping Center, Baltimore planning officials and local legislators are the targets of protests from local residents who are fed up with the state of what once was one of Baltimore’s premiere shopping centers.
Opened in 1947, the Edmondson Village Shopping Center was designed for the suburban community—once a predominately White neighborhood—dating back to a time when trips to shopping malls were occasions to dress up.
Now, 66 years later, the strip mall is rundown, dirty, unsafe and “looks like crap,” according to Monique Washington, president of the Edmondson Village Community Association.
“I understand that this neighborhood is now predominately Black, but there are Blacks that do care about their community and neighborhood,” she said.
Approaching the shopping center along Edmondson Road, a visitor is confronted by piles of trash on the once-grassy aprons that frame the store grounds, along with rusted, broken and bent lampposts and a pothole-marked parking lot.
It is a sharp turn from the Edmondson Village Shopping Center of yesteryear. Once known for its architectural style and luxury stores, the shopping center is a shadow of what it once was, according to those who knew it in its heyday.
They remember a place that contained a movie theater, a major department store and several high-priced boutiques alongside restaurants and barbershops.
Now the shopping center is populated by nearly 40 stores that cater to discount consumer tastes, according to Morgan Hall, 44, a former Edmondson Village resident.
“The quality of the stores has changed,” he said. “Back then people would go there for everything,” he said.
Then came the illicit drug trade and the neighborhood hasn’t been the same since.
Community organizer and Edmondson Village resident Kristerfer Burnett told the AFRO, “There are issues with dumping… trash behind and in front of the shopping center. The shopping center is in really bad condition.,”
Burnett has lived in Edmondson Village for the past three years, but said residents have told him that the mall has been in disrepair for at least a decade.
Several calls by the AFRO to Ira J. Miller of the Miller Group, the Edmondson Village Shopping Center property manager, were not returned.
According to the Baltimore City master plan for Edmondson Village, “the neighborhood was said to be overlooked and the need to take action was more and more the subject of concern for area residents, community leaders, elected officials, planners and other stakeholders.”
City planners have told local activists like Burnett that a facelift was considered for a number of years, but, elected officials have offered little more than lip service to initiating improvements, he said.
Councilwoman Helen Holton told the AFRO that after an Oct. 21 visit, she is concerned.
“At that time, I had the impression that they weren’t really clear on their responsibility,” she said of city officials, adding that while the front of the shopping center needs work, the rear of Edmondson Village Shopping Center is in even worse shape. In addition to potholes, the area is frequently the site of illegal dumping.
Community association leader Washington said “Everything that officials said they would do in the master plan, just the complete opposite is being done.
Holton said they are in the process of making improvements—which should be completed by mid-December. But she warned that renovating the mall will not be an overnight process.
Her goal, she said, is to “enforce the cleanliness of the shopping center within the boundaries the city code.”