City supports effort to amend covenant restricting Edmondson Village Shopping Center renovation

Published 12/16/2022 6:01 p.m. EST, Updated 12/16/2022 7:57 p.m. EST

Edmondson Village Shopping Center in Baltimore, Monday, October 17, 2022.

The city is on board with a developer’s push to amend several parts of a 1945 covenant that covers the Edmondson Village Shopping Center and certain areas in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Earlier this week, the city showed its support by signing an “amendment of covenants” document that Chicago TREND, the developer, has been presenting to property owners on applicable parcels of land. The city owns six properties that fall within the covenant’s reach, including an Enoch Pratt Free Library branch on Edmondson Avenue.

Chicago TREND wants to purchase the shopping center and renovate, but it’s under the condition that certain parts of the covenant are amended. Restrictions the covenant puts in place, such as on architectural design, has made it difficult to redevelop.

Chicago TREND wants to add more retail, sit-down restaurants and possibly senior housing on a vacant lot in the rear.

Andy Frank, a real estate officer with the city, said amendment of the covenant should open the door for Edmondson Village to be an amenity for people to gather, create jobs and strengthen communities. “Freed from barriers that go back more than 70 years, the re-visioning and redevelopment of Edmondson Village can bring enormous benefits to the neighborhoods surrounding this troubled center,” Frank said in an email.

In order for the covenants to be amended, a majority of property owners have to agree to the changes.

The developer only wants to change certain parts of the covenants: restrictions on multiuse residential buildings, architectural design and signage, as well as setback restrictions related to Edmondson Avenue. There’s also a request to remove a part of the covenant that, though unenforceable, restricted occupancy of the land by “any Negro or person of Negro extractions” unless they were a servant.

Chicago TREND CEO Lyneir Richardson previously told The Baltimore Banner “if we can’t get the covenant amended, it’s likely we can’t proceed with the project.” Many residents were unaware a covenant existed in the area, and have expressed a mix of support and hesitance in regard to signing to amend parts of it.

The city’s recent support to amend the covenant joins an announcement from October that the mayor’s office committed $8 million to the renovation.

Michelle Merritt with Chicago TREND said in an email that they’ve decided to keep the number of signatures they’ve received to date confidential, but they hope to get the remaining signatures they need at a community meeting later this month.

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