BALTIMORE — Lyneir Richardson, a Chicago real estate investor, has a contract to buy the Walbrook Junction Shopping Center in West Baltimore for $6.2 million. Richardson is set to close on the deal next month.
"On or around April 15th," Richardson said over Zoom. "We looked at 10 shopping centers before making an offer on Walbrook. We lined up capital and arranged financing.
While it's almost a done deal, this is not just another commercial real estate transaction in the city of Baltimore.
“When was the last time that lower- and middle-income Baltimore residents, intentionally Black residents, were given an opportunity to own a shopping center?” he asked. “Neighbors can own it and make the shopping center better over time. They will take pride in it, protect it and patronize the shopping center in a way maybe they wouldn’t if they didn’t have an ownership in it.”
Richardson is talking about his crowdfunding campaign. It launched back in 2020. With one day left it has raised more than $334,000 dollars. While he doesn't know how many of the 111 investors are from Walbrook Junction, he said 50 percent are Baltimore and all from Maryland.
"We're excited," he said. "It’ll be 90 days after we take title that we'll start to have our strategic meetings with the retailers, the economic development officials, all of our investment partners and articulate a new venue."
WMAR-2 News spoke to West Baltimoreans who frequent the shopping center. They're hoping for change.
"I would definitely like to see community events held in this shopping center parking lot," said Coppin State University student Trinity Driggs. "It’s really big. There are a lot of residents here and I think lot of people would come out here. I'd also like to see the investor really show face."
"I'd really like to see a cleanup crew, lighting, policing," said Monica Thompson. "Just make it more comfortable for people to come and go shopping."
"The biggest thing in the Black community is unity," said Jahi Chatman. "We have to bring unity into the community so we can come together and make it better and take care of it. You can renovate it but who’s to say who’s going to upkeep it?"
Richardson tells WMAR he has more meetings planned along with an upcoming phone call with Mayor Brandon Scott.