Monday, November 2, 2009

Harpers Choice Redevelopment

I'll be the first to say that Harper's Choice has made a huge come back in the past several years but is that enough? It needs to be more visual than that just a drastic reduction in crime, higher School Test Scores and higher property values.
There are still pockets saturated with blighted section 8 housing that may deter future homeowners and renters. With older Columbia Villages it's all about creating a sense of new. Why buy an older home in Columbia when you can buy a newer one in Ellicott City or Elkridge. Lets at least give them an option of new construction in Columbia. So with that, I give my redevelopment plan for Harpers Choice.

First, we'll start off with Harper's Forest Apartments and Ranleigh Court Town Homes. Harper's Forest Apartments is market level rentals with a few Section 8 units thrown in. The buildings are old and tired looking. Despite recent renovations to the interiors it still lacks the modern conveniences that dwellers of modern day complexes take for granted such as a washer & dryer in the unit and walk in closets to name a couple. Ranleigh Court is a Community Homes development consisting exclusively of section 8 units.
In place of both developments will be new condos and apartments that look like these. It will be a mixed income community known as "Swansfield Crossing." A possible street connection making turnabout lane even with Twin Rivers Road should be considered. The name appropriate because the new community would be visible to passers by on Little Patuxent Parkway and will make a good impression of Harpers Choice. The income mix will be 45% Market Rate Homeownership, 40% Market Rate Rental, 10% Subsidized Homeownership, and 5% Subsidized Rentals.Next we come to Fall River Terrace, perhaps the worst Community Homes development. It's struggled with drug dealing, loud parties, and messy common areas. The redevelopment of Fall River Terrace will be very symbolic in the continued renewal of Harper's Choice.What will now grace the grounds of Fall River Terrace will be "The Townes of Harper's Choice." which will consist of two car garage town homes with said garage located in the back of the home. These wider town homes have a few narrow units made to look the width one of the normal ones. The narrow ones will be the subsidized units. The income mix will be 100% Home ownership 75% Market Rate and 25% Subsidized.
Next we come to the Meadows Town Homes located both off of Eliots Oak Road and Hesperous Drive. This is the first Community in Harper's Choice I'd like to see redeveloped that is Owner Occupied. That would make redevelopment all the more difficult when acquiring land and property from dozens of owners rather than just one or two, but "if you don't dream big don't dream it all" that's been my motto when writing these blogs. The meadows has become dated and the small size of the homes are not compatible with the needs of a modern family. Homeowners have tried very hard to maintain their homes but there are somethings they can't change. The streets located in the meadows are as follows; Hildebrand Court located off of Eliots Oak Road closest to Harpers Farm Road, Fallriver Row Court between Hildebrand Court and Hesperous Drive, Mystic Court located off of Hesperous Drive closest to Eliots Oak Road and Endicott Lane located farthest from Eliots Oak Road. The location of these streets will play a pivotal part in their redevelopment. Notice the two different style of Town Homes I chose for this new Community. The first picture is of one car garage "stacked" two level town homes which will be on the outer edge of the new Community titled "Longfellow Pointe" The outer portions include the southern part of Hildebrand Court, the northern, eastern, and western ends of Mystic Court, and all of Endicott Lane. The inner portions of "Longfellow Pointe will include the northern portion of Hildebrand Court, all of Fallriver Row Court, and the southern portion of Mystic Court. These homes will be one or two garage "back to back" town homes where what you think is the back of a home is actually the front of a totally different home with a different street address. That's why I positioned these particular homes in the middle of the Community where they will only face each other. These will be 100% Market Rate with a 50-50 Homeowner/Rental split.
Capistrano Villas are town homes with an apartment underneath located between Fenland Fields Apartments and Harper's Choice Village Center. Their dated style and lack of exterior maintenance make them ripe for redevelopment. Also being near Fenland Fields Apartments has had a negative effect on this development (you have to drive Fenland Feilds to access it.)
In its place will be "Joesph Square Overlook" the original name for Harper's Choice Village Center was just that, Joesph Square. Capistrano Villas overlooked the Village Center and so will its replacement hence the name. I like to throw in a little history when I can. Joseph Square Overlook will be laid out the same as its predecessor; two story town homes with an apartment underneath. The town homes are accessible by going up the flight of stairs and the apartment entrance is at ground level. Upon entering the apartment, you'd go down a flight of stairs first. Joseph Square Overlook will be 100% Market Rate Home Ownership. This vacant parcel at the corner of Harpers Farm Road and Rivendel Lane overlooks the Golf Course and would be prime for over priced condos. I'm choosing a different method for this piece of land.What I have in mind is Senior Apartments ages 62 & Better. They will be 100% Subsidized Rentals and displaced Seniors from Ramleigh Court, Waverly Winds, Fall River Terrace, and Harper House will get first dibs. The new development will be called "The Fairways at Hobbits Glen."Harper House (nee Abbott House) was once Harper's Choice's most dangerous development. There was drug dealing in the stair wells, loud parties, and even a shooting or two. There have been numerous drug related arrests here that have calmed things down in the mean time. The building is dated and casts a blighted shadow at one of Harper's Coice's most heavily traveled intersections; Cedar Lane and Harpers Farm Road. Currently this is 100% subsidized rentals.In is place will be three mixed income buildings like this one with underground parking. They will be built on the grounds of the former Harper House, its parking lot, and green patch adjacent to it. The income mix will be 55% Market Rate Home Ownership 35% Market Rate Rentals 5% Subsidized Home Ownership and 5% Subsidized Rentals. The new development will be called "Swansfield Grove."Harper's Village (Grand Banks Road) has seen better days (and worse.) Being located between two Section 8 developments (Harper House and Waverly Winds) has taken its toll on these owner occupied town homes. Although similar developments will be spared (Harper's Glen and Merion Station) and its Section 8 neighbors will be redeveloped, Harper's Village needs to be redeveloped as well to streamline the new development in Harper's Choice.
In its place will be "Swansfield Overlook", two story town homes with basements. These town homes pictured have two car garages in the back but Swansfield Overlook will not have garages and will utilize existing on street parking. Swansfield Overlook will be 100% Subsidized Home Ownership and will help moderate income families become home owners in Howard County.Waverly Winds, the final "Community Homes" development has struggled with crime and drugs in the 1990s and still has a ways to go. In an effort to create a broader income mix throughout Harper's Choice, Waverly Winds will be redeveloped.
In its place will be the mixed income Community known as "The Crescent at Swansfield", which will feature three level two car garage town homes. The garages will be located in the back of the homes. The income mix will be 50% Market Rate Home Ownership 40% Market Rate Rental and 10% Subsidized Rentals.

Fenland Fields Apartments are sprawled in three different sections along Harpers Farm Road. Each section therefore, should be redeveloped differently. The first section (pic coming soon) is located at the intersection of Harpers Farm Road and Eliots Oak Road. It's between the Athletic Club and Fall river Terrace.

In its place will be "Longfellow Crossing", three story non garage "back to back" homes. It will utilize existing on street parking and paths leading to homes whose fronts aren't accessible through the parking lots. Longfellow Crossing will be 100% Market Rate Rentals. The second section is located between the Athletic Club, The Village Center, and Kahler Hall. Needless to say, this is a weird place for Apartments. So I pose this question to you; Why redevelop it with more of the same if something else the Village Center is lacking maybe a better suit for it? What do I propose for it? An Interfaith Center, Harper's Chocie doesn't have one and there's no other land in the Village available to build one on. The last and largest section of Fenland Fields is lcoated between the Village Center and Rivendell Lane. Part of the redevelopment will include a Traffic Signal at Harpers Farm Road and Rivendell Lane and Cedar Lane and Route 108 due to the higher density of the redeveloped Fenland Fields and both intersections warranting them anyway.

In its place will be will be a new mixed income community of condos. The new community will be called "Parkside at Cedar Lane" due to its breath taking views of Cedar Lane Park. Parkside at Cedar Lane will contain the income mix of 60% Market Rate Home Ownership, 35% Market Rate Rentals, 3% Subsidized Home Ownership, and 2% Subsidized Rentals.

Well, that's it for the redevelopment of Harper's Choice. This will ensure the continued revitalization and renewal of Harper's Choice that the Village has been enjoying since the real estate market surged after the turn of the century. It's time for new construction to go along with it.


Anonymous said...

It's important to note that Harper's Forest et al fall into Mary Kay Sigaty's council district.

Anonymous said...

You are surprisingly blithe about devastating subsidized options for Harper's Choice. I grew up in this village and still love it. Part of what I love about the experience of growing up in Columbia was that you made friends at school, only to discover later that they were anywhere from living on food stamps to living in a large house. The kind of homogeneous social situation you see on the borders of Columbia and, increasingly, out in the county simply couldn't exist. Where do you propose to place all of these people, or do you simply propose to shove them over the border? Rather than redevelop their neighborhoods into rather unexceptional Northern Virginia-style developments for those better off than they, maybe it would be better to improve their neighborhoods, allowing a better place for young people and single parents to consider home.

In addition, the "vacant parcel" is quite far from empty. Undeveloped land is vital to Columbia's identity and appearance. Maximizing the use of this property deprives our city of the wonderful way you can slip out your back door and into the woods, or the way that trees keep neighborhoods tucked away and hidden from the roads, a much more pleasant living situation for those in the homes.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is NOT enough subizided housing to accomendate the people who do and have been Howard County Residents for years. The homeless rate in this county is ridiculous considering the wealth in this county. Now they want to take out most of the low income housing. Therefore increasing the homeless rate tremendously and making life harder to survive. I think its terrible!!

bearmom32 said...

The Community Homes developments throughout Columbia including Waverly Winds, Fallriver Terrace and Ranleigh Court will undergo major renovations inside and out beginning in 2012. The Harper House has also had some major renovations, to include a 9 story addition that is really attractive. Lots of good things happening in Harper's Choice!