Monday, May 12, 2008

Bryant Square: What's with the Hold Up?

Ok, lets be reasonable here how long does it take to put replace old siding and roofing on an 88 unit town home development? I'd say one summer maximum. Wrong, if you live near, in, or drive by Bryant Square in the village of Wilde Lake you'd see that's not the case at all. So far it's five and a half years and counting and construction has slowed to a halt with no end in sight. They're about 33% done with the development and the kicker is that houses that have been worked on are spread throughout the entire development in an almost random fashion. A few houses have been half done for a number of years now. This brings just one question to mind; What's the Hold Up?
Built in 1973, Bryant Square has lead me to believe that it was once completely a rental community that was converted to homeownership in the 1980s or 1990s. This practice was not uncommon for older Columbia developments as the rental market dried up over the years. For town homes Bryant Square homes are huge! Many with four bedrooms.
By the late 1990s Bryant Square began to show signs of blight. It doesn't have much surrounding it. It's land locked by Governor Warfield Parkway and Twin Rivers Road.

The only housing development nearby is the Section 8 rental development of Roslyn Rise, part of community homes which has four other sites throughout West Columbia. Other nearby sites include Wilde Lake High School and Century Plaza a very early office park in Columbia's history. Paths and tunnels connect Bryant Square to the rest of Wilde Lake and Columbia as a whole.
New development across Governor Warfield Parkway further gave Bryant Square an old and blighted appearance. Spillover crimes began occurring from other decaying neighborhoods. Although Bryant Square is a homeownership development many of the units are rentals with "slum lords". In the spring of 2002 a nonfatal shooting occurred in Bryant Square which further gave off the perception of that Bryant Square was a bad neighborhood. The victims of the shootings were all Wilde Lake High School students, I was a senior there at the time of the shooting. In fact, I was on the school grounds when it happened mere feet from it.
Very quickly the suspects were apprehended (Columbia doesn't fall victim to stop snitchin') and were tried and sentenced to very long prison sentences. It became very clear that Bryant Square, like much of older Columbia neighborhoods were in need of revitalization. The county came up with a Master Plan for Bryant Square that would serve as a roll model for aging Columbia neighborhoods. The Master Plan focused mostly on sidewalk, pathway, parking space, striping, and vegetation. The structures themselves were barely mentioned so as far as the Master Plan goes it was successful. New plantings replaced dying ones, sidewalks, paths, and streets were resurfaced, and cleanup projects brought many residents out to clean up their community. The homes themselves were and still are, for the most part blighted. The original buildings are are dark brown wooden siding and white stucco. In late 2002 Vinyl siding started to appear on a few buildings. From then until about 2006, at a bottle neck pace new siding continued. For about two years now there has been no activity on the siding front. What's the hold up? They're nowhere near done, as I mentioned before, only about 40% of the homes have been completed. Crime has gone down and thanks to the real estate boom home ownership is up. As far as the original question about the hold up, I really can't answer that. The homes that have been completed don't look all that fancy, they look like old homes that have been redone instead of brand new homes. If done right Bryant Square could serve as a model for communities like Hollow Oaks, Beechin Hills, Cross Fox, Russett Ridge, Bryant Gardens, and the Cove.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The residents of Bryant Square were never required to install the new siding. They had the choice of making sure their stucco/wood was not damaged or installing the siding. This was all to come out of the homeowners' pockets. One time I believe in 2006 they sent letters out trying to enforce their code. It required you to fill out a form and apply for a permit before making the changes they wanted. Once you apply for the permit, you never hear back so you don't make the changes. The management is horrible and the crime is terrible. We owned their briefly, buying there during the boom where we made the HUGE mistake of buying without checking out the neighborhood. We were one of the only few who were able to sell without losing money, but we made huge improvements inside the house. We were very hesitant about adding the siding because we knew we would never see a return on that investment. We are now VERY happily far far away from that community.

Jeanne G. said...

Bryant Square is one of the worst communities I know! Since coming here in 2007, my family and I have experienced the most horrendous things. Our vehicles were broken into & property stolen, tags stolen, tags switched, handicap placard & (another time)handicap tag stolen, tires flattened, lug nuts removed(resulting in tire flying off on freeway)twice, liquor bottles broken @ our doorway,in the 1st 2 1/2 yrs. alone. Then, parking disasters & towing due to "new" parking plan which caused most residents undue stress & hardship..tenants were not privy to the info or permit issuing,therefore many vehicles were taken/towed w/o warning. Exorbitant fees charged to get car back, in this lower income neighborhood?.. seems cruel to me! Soon, my 3 mo. old kitten was poisoned,3 wks. later the mama cat poisoned leaving 2 wk. old kittens behind & 9 mo. after that, my cat from the litter was poisoned...ALL 3 died! Our sliding glass door was shot out,& eventually, 2 mountain bikes($325)were taken from back yard, etc, etc...and don't expect the cops to do anything about it! Even w/ witnesses, they did NOTHING! But, they're good @ misconduct,like terrorizing my 16 yr. son & his friend for over an hr. after drawing their guns on the petrified boys while talking @ a friends door. Cops did not witness any crime or wrong-doing, just went by hearsay, and what was it? Toy their cases! We live in fear. If I hear certain voices near our home, or hear a loud engine or beeping(tow truck),I have to run & see what's up. I also fear for my dogs life. This is a horrible way to live. AND, I can't get a copy of the HOA's rules. Just 2 wks. ago, my husbands work truck & tools got towed. After he complained, w/i 12 hrs. my truck, tools & a part that was not attached was taken. Both vehicles had proper permits & in the correct spaces. Not only did they break the law, but they(tow co.)won't tow them back & they know we can't drive them out! No warning, just plain, devious theft! My family is quiet,would help anyone,& we're law-abiding, tax paying citizens. We definitely do not deserve this one does.

Priya Narayanan said...

Is the revitalization of Wilde lake village center going to help this community?