The Walgreens storefront at the Historic Dundalk Town Center is preparing to close, driving more uncertainty for the local main street and leaving the area with even fewer places to buy groceries.
With Walgreens set to close its doors officially at approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, residents and local advocacy groups are preparing to implore community investment from local government and private companies.
Although Walgreens is known mainly for its pharmacy, many community members have relied on the drugstore as source of groceries, according to the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation.
The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation has worked to revitalize commercial and residential areas in the area, especially at the Dundalk Village Shopping Center. The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation has been responsible for helping small local businesses like Little Crystal Bijoux, Then and Again, and Dude’s Snack Attack cement their place at the local shopping center.
“We are disappointed by the exit of Walgreens. Many in our community rely on their discounted prescriptions and the walkability of its location,” the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation said in a statement. “Due to the lack of a grocery store in the HDTC, many residents rely on Walgreens for their grocery store needs.”
Currently, the Dundalk Renaissance are trying to work with the shopping center’s property owners, Tru Management. According to Tru Management, the Dundalk shopping center has a total of 69,000 square feet of commercial space that consists of 60,000 square-foot of retail space and 9,000 square-foot of office space, as well as 67 apartments.
“We are exploring potential options with Tru Management to alleviate the strain of Walgreens’ departure on our community,” the DRC said.
Meanwhile, the closing of the local Walgreens means for an even more exasperated food desert for residents in Turner Station. The USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas identifies Turner Station as a community with low food access.
The Turner Station neighborhood was already hurting for grocery options when Geresbeck’s at Logan Village Shopping Center closed in 2018.
“It seems like we, in this area, are now in a position where we have less services than we had in the ‘50s and the ‘60s,” Turner Station resident Mary Coleman said.
Upon her retirement, Coleman recently moved back to her hometown of Turner Station after living in downtown Baltimore for the last 20 years. According to 79-year-old Coleman, she relies on her family for transportation to the Giant supermarket on Merritt Boulevard.
Even with the closing of the local Walgreens, Coleman said the pharmacy did not offer a delivery service for seniors to receive their needed medications.
“A lot of elderly people either stop driving or never drove,” Coleman said. “I always try to locate myself where it’s convenient.”
When Geresbeck’s closed in 2018, Gloria Nelson of the Turner Station Conservation Teams warned that losing the grocery store would hurt the community.
“What is going to happen to the people that don’t have cars and walked to that market? What about the seniors?” Nelson asked in 2018.
Since then, Nelson says the community has had conversations with Baltimore County officials to figure out how to remedy the issue. The county has implemented several initiatives, including a free, twice-a-week grocery shuttle service that goes to Aldi and Giant on Merritt Boulevard.
According to Nelson, the Logan Village Shopping Center was one of the reasons why the senior apartment building, The Greens at Logan Field, was built directly next to the property.
“There were several amenities seniors could walk to,” Nelson said. “It just seems like the shopping center has incredibly declined.”
With a lack of sources for nutritional food to be bought, residents now rely on more expensive convenience stores and “dollar stores” that don’t have the quantity or variety of food offered at a typical grocery store. According to Nelson, the recent announcement of the local Walgreens closing puts more pressure on senior residents to receive their medications.
“Now, all of the medicine is going to be transferred over to Merritt Boulevard, and that’s the problem — a lot of seniors don’t drive,” Nelson said.
Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski was quoted at a prior town hall saying the county is “actively working” with potential grocers “to fill the void” in the Dundalk-Turner Station area, when residents voiced their concerns of living in a food desert.
“We need to sound the alarm, we need to reach out again to our elected officials,” Nelson said. “We just need to work with our legislative officials and find out what can be done.”
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