Preston Greene's Address to the Community
ShopRite Grand Opening

 July 31, 2014






Good Morning Howard Park. This is a great day in the neighborhood.


Now let me introduce myself… My name is Preston Greene... a family man, your neighbor and the President of the Howard Park Civic Association --HPCA. I am delighted to be here with you all.


When I think about the long-term sacrifices, many, many meetings, frustrations, emails, and so much more are the things that stand out as I think of what it took for this community to get here. HPCA doesn’t claim to be solely responsible for all of the milestones, but let it be known that the role of HPCA was significant in many aspects of this colossal project. Through so many years we continued to fight for a supermarket, this long battle has been the glue that we all agreed on even in the face of so many other issues.   The Executive Board of HPCA is to be commended!


I am so happy to be here and to see all of your happy faces today!

  •  If you play, work or live in this great community let’s make some noise!
  •  If you plan to shop in Howard Park make some noise!! …That’s wonderful.


I’d like to take a few moments to talk to you about three things related to Howard Park… the past, the present, and the future.


PAST 


HPCA, through its CEDC, has worked for 15 years to get here. In that time…

  • 1999: Superpride closed.

  • 2002: The then current 1979 Baltimore Commercial Revitalization Plan was revised.

  • 2006: Vanguard Corporation were the winning developers from Request For Proposals.

  • 2008: Vanguard offered to resign because they couldn’t find any grocers for Howard Park.

  • Fall 2009:  We met Mr. Jeff Brown, the President & CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. He Operates 10 ShopRite supermarkets in the Delaware Valley. Jeff Brown, a fourth generation Philadelphia grocer, which employs more than 2,300 associates. He was also acknowledged for his work in the community by President Obama. He brought offerings of Community Benefits that far exceeded our expectations. 

  • We then took a trip to the Parkside ShopRite in Philly, to see an example of what we were to expect. Neighbors, churches, elected, city employees traveled. The testimonies of employees, about the careers, not dead end jobs, the transformation of the community with ShopRite as the anchor and so much more…   NOW we’re really excited, and skeptical… can this be real?

  • 2010: Partnerships with developers and operators changed. Now the community can benefit from a owner operator grocer not a leasing tenant. But the biggest change was that we now have the Klein Family as the operating partner and new Howard Park neighbor. What a big win for us!

    New partnerships brought need for new negotiations with the Baltimore Development Corporation, represented by Leon Pinkett and the city. Months past... are we dead in the water.

  • Dec  2010: The Northwest Development Roundtable, of which I am presently honored to be the Chair. NWDR is a coalition non-profit whose catchment area covers 27 communities, here in NW Baltimore. A t a NWDR General Meeting, along community leaders, we invited BDC & local elected officials, to give us the status of the project. With the power of 27 communities supporting one project, by saying loud and clear “WE WANT A MARKET, 11 years is long enough”… 2 months later the market was approved by the mayor. Land Disposition Agreement negotiations were proceeding.

  • August 2012: There was the ceremony where Super Pride’s sign was removed, to signify the beginning of the project. Within months, the 5.5 acres were leveled.

  • April 2013: How can a former owner of property, affect property they never owned forever? The statement added to the deed of the RiteAid Corp half acre lot did just that. HPCA organized a Rally against Rite Aid Pharmacy to have them remove a restrictive covenant that stopped the project.

  • May 2013: Groundbreaking Ceremony, construction begins. FINALLY!

    Worst winter weather in a while, progress crawls. But, Howard Klein, their attorney, and others met with the HPCA Board every month providing updates and discussing potential options to overcome obstacles. HPCA has learned that in the time that we have been involved with our new ShopRite neighbors, it’s been all good! They are strong, principled businessmen who cares about this community.

PRESENT


We stand here today, bearing witness to the greatest thing that has happened in this community in the past 2 or more generations (more than 40 years). As a long-time resident, I have seen a lot of change in the area… mostly change for the worst. As of today, I would like for each of you who play, work, live or shop in Howard Park, to show your newly found pride. Demonstrate that the pride you feel today as a part of such a wonderful Supermarket’s Grand Opening, staffed by our newly employed neighbors, and managed by such honest and principled businessmen as the Kleins and Josh Thompson, will remain strong as well as grow as we rebuild this community to become all that it can be.

HPCA promises to remain vigilant for the greater good of the community. It hurts us all when we allow vandalism & crime to undermine the great strides that we are witnessing here today. This is the beginning of a renaissance of change. That change for the better must include you. That means report acts of vandalism, and other crimes, be safe and protect Howard Park, because this community is our house.

FUTURE


HPCA along with our state legislators for the 41st district, our elected city officials, BDC, SLOTS impact Aid, and more are optimistic about the future of this community. We have made progress in creative ways to make Howard Park considerably better than it has been.  Does that matter to you?

Just a few concerned & involved neighbors have made it possible for all of us to bear witness here today. Will you wait for the next invitation to attend an event, or will you make sure that the next event is coming soon by offering your support? You can make the difference. Become a member of HPCA. Do your part to continue this excitement onto the next big thing… we can’t do it without your support.


That next big thing, is the Ambassador Theater. Remember, HPCA is Neighbors helping Neighbors for 67 years and counting.

 


 

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