Big Box Development at #MACoCon

What’s in the Box?!?! The Challenges and Opportunities of Big Box Development was a panel discussion held at the 2015 MACo Summer Conference on August 13. The panel was moderated by the Honorable J.B. Jennings of the Maryland State Senate. On the panel was: (1) Andrea Van Arsdale, Director of BaltimoreWhat's in the Box  County Office of Planning; (2) Lisa Harris Jones, Founding Member and Attorney at Law of Harris Jones & Malone, LLC; and (3) Gregory Slater, Director of Planning and Preliminary Engineering at the Maryland State Highway Administration.

This panel discussed both the opportunities and challenges of locating “big box” retailors, like Walmart and Target. An example of an opportunity that was mentioned was that a big box store could attract a shopping crowd that also patronizes and provides financial benefits to nearby smaller specialty stores. An example of a challenge that was mentioned was local stores employing people with big box benefits.

The major takeaway from this session is that big box development is not necessarily bad, just complicated. As Van Arsdale reminds us, “retail in these types of formats are always changing.” These changes can range from the size of the space to what the outside can look like. However, these changes should be regulated by local officials and representatives from the store.

Big box development is a complicated issue and should be taken seriously as there are pros and cons to these types of stores.  Both should be considered when trying to make the right decision for your community.