Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How to best Redevelop Wilde Lake Village Center

Ever since the Giant closed in the fall of 2006 all I've heard were complaints. The complaints are justified, Wilde Lake Village Center is crumbling before our very eyes. One thing I haven't heard much of has been solutions. Kimco, the Center's owners have given up due to the economy and the County thinks Village Centers don't need a Grocer Anchor to stay vital. Before Kimco gave up however, they came up with ground floor retail and 500 apartments or condos.
This was not popular, neither was idea of David's Natural Market moving into the Giant Space. I fund that to be short sighted. Legislation that made easier for Property Owners in Columbia to redevelop i.e. not going through GGP was not passed. That same session, a Zoning Ordinance was passed allowing Walgreens to build a store in Oakland Mills further draining its Village Center. That's democracy inaction for you.
I still believe that Wilde Lake, after the recession can attract a Full Service Grocer. I also believe that a Village Center needs one in order to stay a vital neighborhood draw. I'm neutral on the apartments above as long as there's a Full Service Grocer within the plan. It's been close to three years and a viable for Wilde Lake hasn't surfaced...Until Now! You didn't think I'd bash the system without showing them the solution they can't come up with.
Kevin Allen, who's been with Kimco since Rouse sold the Village Centers to them has said that Wilde Lake is "landlocked" which doesn't allow for a huge Grocery Store that's present in almost all the other Village Centers. He said this in a Community Meeting back in 2006 long before Produce Galore closed its doors. Wilde Lake is still landlocked but Produce Galore's closing will prove to be a huge part of my redevelopment plan.
Well lets get started with Produce Galore. It will be knocked down and in its place will be a strip of existing stores. The stores will be The Melting Pot, Wilde Lake Karate, Bagel & Deli, Pizza Bolis (this will be much smaller without the tables), Tokyo Cafe, Wilde Lake Cleaners, and Today's Catch. Below is a picture of a Shopping Center Strip with a modern facade that I think Wilde Lake should adapt.In the place of the aforementioned strip will be additional parking as will the Courtyard and Fountain.
Don't fret, the Fountain will be relocated along Lynx Lane in its Courtyard pictured below.Now the million dollar question is where will the new Grocery Store go?Well, it will face Twin River Road and it will be expanded upon the existing vacant Giant.That's why I had that strip and Courtyard demolished, most of the existing parking lot will be taken up by the new Grocer. All this will be built over making the new Grocery Store 55,000 to 62,000 Square Feet. I know Kevin Allen has said that 46,000 Square Feet is the largest Wilde Lake can accommodate (still twice the size of the current vacant Giant)but that was before Produce Galore closed. Produce Galore closing allowed the size of the new Grocery Store to be bumped up considerably. The expansion will be behind Twin Rivers Road toward Cross Fox Lane and to the right towards Lynx Lane. Mars is my personal preference for Wilde Lake. Pictured above is a Mars that opened in Ellicott City in late '03 early '04. It's a beautiful store, that's clean, well stocked, and would be an invaluable asset to Wilde Lake. Their prices aren't unreasonable so all around it would be great. The opening of this Ellicott City signaled Mars expansion into the Howard County Market. I would bet that once the economic climate is right Mars would like to expand into Columbia. Wilde Lake is ready and willing for a Mars. The above picture should give you an idea of what you should see when approaching Wilde Lake on Twin Rivers Road.
Still more demolition for parking. The Columbia Bank Drive Thru, whose facade is terribly dated will hit the wrecking. In the background, you can see the front of the new Grocery Store and how it's blocked by the Drive Thru.
The new location for the Columbia Bank's Drive Thru will be here. Just to the left of David's near Cross Fox Lane. The new Drive Thru's design will be in keeping with the new facade I'm proposing for the whole Village Center.
Also effected by the new facade will be the Crown Gas Station and the KFC which Kimco should acquire from its current property owners.
A great addition to the KFC would be a second Drive Up Window that up to date Fast Food Restaurants.
Some good news! Despite the troubles of Wilde Lake, it has attracted a new tenant. A Full Service Hair Salon will be replacing Great Clips which moved to Dorsey's Search. On the Village Green Star Nails has expanded into the space vacated by Ridel's Florist. This shows a strong commitment to Wilde Lake and they don't have plans to vacate any time soon. Not only that, they have a strong Customer Base.The doors leading to the Second Floor Offices would move to the left of Star Nails making space for a Police Satellite Office when paired with the old doors to the Giant.
They will not be part of the new Grocery Store.
Parts of the Village Center that won't undergo massive renovations will receive exterior facade updates and additional more adequate lighting.Slayton House, whose front doors would be masked by the New Grocery Store will have a lighted brick Promenade from the Village Green leading up to its front doors.
Not all of the Courtyard will be destroyed. The steps leading to the Interfaith Center and the red Fountain Sculpture will remain in tact.There are still two vacancies at Wilde Lake that need to be filled. The first was vacated by the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy. I think an Ice Cream Parlor like a Cold Stone Creamery or a Haggen Das would fit the bill perfectly.
The second is Feet First who moved to Hickory Ridge. I think a Day Spa, whose popularity has surged over the past several years would be a great addition.The final improvements to Wilde Lake Village Center concern the intersection of Twin Rivers Road and Lynx Lane. New and additional "Countdown" Pedestrian Signals will be installed as well as brick crosswalks. The traffic signal itself is old and pealing. The shafts will have to be repainted. The same will be done at Twin Rivers Road and Cross Fox Lane.
Ever since Giant closed in 2006 all I've heard were complaints. Well, I'm doing something about it! I'm not going to complain, I'm going to take action. Now there's a plan that people can look to and know what they want their Village Center to look like.