BALTIMORE — More than three years after it suddenly closed, the Target at Mondawmin Mall is still vacant. The store was the anchor for a multi-million-dollar development project in West Baltimore, but a decade after opening, Target abruptly shut down.
Since February 2018, nothing has taken its place, and the corporation recently received a nearly 40 percent reduction in its property taxes.
In 2020, Target appealed its property tax assessment. This past February, the appeal was granted, which reduced the property’s assessed value by $4.1 million and requires Target to pay $100,347.20 less than what it paid in Fiscal Year 2019-2020.
“If their carrying costs go down, there’s less incentive to have to move it,” said Bill Cole, partner of Margrave Strategies.
Cole was president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation in 2017 when Target announced it would be closing its Mondawmin Mall store.
In November 2017, the city and community held a meeting hoping the corporation would change its mind. When it didn’t, city leaders asked that the store leave quickly.
“We were given every assurance that they would try to move the property to try and get it in the hands of a different user quickly,” said Cole. “It still sits empty and it’s a constant reminder and sore spot for the city and community.”
Robert Mumford lives near the shuttered store.
“I was here when it first opened, I was still here when it closed,” said Mumford.
Mumford used to be able to walk to the Mondawmin Target, now he takes the bus out of the city to the Towson location.
“By transportation, [it takes] no more than an hour,” Mumford said.
The store was a beacon in West Baltimore’s Mondawmin neighborhood. It showed large businesses were willing to invest in the community, and a $15 million city financing deal awarded to the mall developer also helped pave the way for the store to open.
“They were certainly a beneficiary, they weren’t the loan beneficiary, the mall itself benefitted from that investment but, again, it just added salt to the wound to know that the city incentivized them coming there and did everything they asked to make sure the property was available for an anchor Target and then for them to leave a decade later, it still hurts,” said Cole. “It did feel like they turned their back on Baltimore.”
The Baltimore City Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board’s based its decision to reverse the original assessment of $10,601,200 to $6,500,000 on “capitalized income” after the board received a 2019 purchase agreement from Target for $6.25 million.
The sale didn't go through, but the appeal did, reducing the corporation's property taxes by $100,000.
A board spokesperson said, The Board also took into consideration the condition, income and consummated sales of comparable properties and based their decision on these factors.
Target didn't respond to WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii’s request for an interview or her eight questions on plans for the property, including if Target is considering implementing retail restrictions on the property, or reducing their price.
In an email, a spokeswoman wrote:
"I can confirm that Target is marketing the former West Baltimore store property for sale."
Justin Williams, a land use and zoning attorney and partner with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, has also taken an interest in the vacant property.
Williams said this new assessment has ramifications. Other stores could argue for a similar valuation, and over time, the city loses money.
“You see officials argue they’re doing everything they can to fund schools, fund police, fund social programming and every dollar matters," said Williams.
“I mean you’re also not getting any of the residual taxes from an operating store, you don’t have the employment taxes, you don’t have any of the other things that benefit government to keep us going just an empty property and you hope it doesn’t become a blight,” said Cole.
In an email to Sofastaii, a spokeswoman with Mayor Brandon Scott’s office wrote:
“This property is a priority of the administration. The Scott administration is engaged in active conversations regarding the future of this community asset.”
Stefanie Mavronis, Deputy Director of Communication, Mayor Brandon Scott’s Office
Sofastaii asked if the city considered appealing the decision in Maryland Tax Court. She hasn’t yet received a response.
Mondawmin Mall operator, Brookfield Properties, also told Sofastaii that “Mondawmin Mall [storefronts are] over 97% leased and continues to be a place where members of the community have worked, shopped, dined and been entertained for more than 60 years. Members of the Greater Mondawmin Community are very loyal to our center and we were sad when Target closed their doors. However, please note that Target owns the building where their former store was located and while we continue to work with them to determine a new tenant or use for their building, we cannot comment on their behalf.”