Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wilde Lake Reinvestment

Wilde Lake has perhaps the largest number of small developments with many different housing choices. Some have aged better than others. Those that haven't aged well were published in my Wilde Lake Redevelopment post back in 2008. Those that have aged better are for the most, larger homes that have been privately owned their entire lifespan, those that haven't were converted as such and maintain a high home ownership rate. In order for these homes, when they start coming on the market again not to be skipped over by potential Buyers and Real Estate Agents alike their exterior facades are due for a major reinvestment to keep them viable for decades to come.
First we start with Columbia's very first homes, Bryant Gardens. Originally Apartments these have been created into Condos and the upkeep is great. However, the exterior facades mimic those of dated crime ridden Apartments despite their great upkeep. Unlike many many older Columbia Neighborhoods, trees appear very healthy and green grass can grow all around.The updated Bryant Gardens will feature vinyl siding where the stucco was and new bricks where the old ones are. The windows will be upgraded allowing for decks and balconies. Buildings will be enclosed and guests will be "buzzed" in. The interior of the Buildings were be illuminated and carpeted and the steps will be upgraded.The Cove is almost identical to Bryant Gardens with both developments being built in 1967 as Apartments and being converted into Condos in the early 1980s. One the Cove does have a leg up on Bryant Gardens is the fact that it's on Wilde Lake. If ever Columbia had Million Dollar Condos outside of Town Center, The Cove might be it. Getting their facades upgraded might be a challenge seeing that Oprah lived here they might qualify for Historic Designation.Be that as it may, I still say a more modern look is needed. Seeing that Bryant Gardens has been a virtual twin to the Cove for 43 years, I say their updated looks be identical as well. The Cove will feature new windows, siding, and balconies, and enclosed buildings. Like Bryant Gardens The Cove already has great landscaping.Russett Ridge town homes, located along Windstream Drive, Greek Boy Place, and Barcan Circle appear to have aged worse than Bryant Gardens and the Cove despite never being rentals and being two years younger having been built in 1969. Homes here are either two or three stories as depicted by the photos above.The revamped Russett Ridge will feature updated siding, bricks, or stone with new windows and decorative dormers. As you can see I've provided examples of what the two story and three story homes would look like.Beechin Hills Town Homes have aged very gracefully. As Columbia's first town homes a mild freshening with new siding is all that's in order. The structures don't really warrant much overhauling like other developments.Like I said just fresh siding and trim. Very little is needed for these diamond in the rough town homes.Hollow Oaks features town homes that are three to a row. Unlike Beechin Hills they need more than just a freshening. But don't fret! I have a good idea on how to transform these threesomes.I found some three to a row town homes in Baltimore that part of a Hope VI redevelopment known as Heritage Crossing. Like Hollow Oaks Heritage Crossing has the two end units larger than the middle one. Hollow Oaks can adapt the brick end units and the vinyl siding middle unit.
Also in Hollow Oaks lies large three story split foyer town homes. These are more than three in a row but reinvestment is needed none the less.Here we have brand new large Town Homes that also happen to be split foyer. These would be the perfect model for the larger Hollow Oaks Town Homes.In Hollow Oaks there is space for new construction! With the existing homes redone new homes won't look out of place. The new homes in Hollow Oaks will be two car garage Town Homes. The ones pictures above are in the same development as the split foyer ones I suggested for the existing Hollow Oaks.Finally we come to Cross Fox. Cross Fox is Condos and back to back Town Homes which started as rentals and were converted to home ownership. These are a little than the other developments listed here being built in 1975. Their brick exteriors lack any accessories.The perfect solution is to give them partial siding and window treatments as shown here in an Apartment Complex that was all brick lack luster and has been transformed into what you see here. These original Apartments were built in 1974.

Well that's it for the reinvestment of Wilde Lake! This one's been a long time coming.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Plans Don't Exist!

Month after month I hear there's going to be a meeting where Kimco will announce its plans for Wilde Lake Village Center. The residents who attend those meetings time and time again find out they're just "listening sessions" to seek "Community Input" well in case you haven't figured it out there are no plans and there never have been any.
Kimco and the County are creating a smokescreen to make it look like progress is being made when in fact, it's going backwards. The New Zoning Amendment for redeveloping Village Centers passed by the County simply prolonghs the process by having meeting after meeting review board after review board before anything is passed. That hasn't even started yet because Kimco has yet to come forth any development plans. It's also holding me back, if there aren't any plans, I can't write about how flawed they are.Many of the residents who attend these meetings have lived in Wilde Lake since the late 1960s and they're aging hippies. They want to see preservation of everything that hearkens back to the Wilde Lake they moved to 40 years ago. By not redeveloping the Village Center earlier like other Centers have done, that created the problem Wilde Lake faces today. Congratulations, old hippies you're part of the problem, not the solution.
I, unlike Kimco or the County have come up with plenty of solutions, some of which I had back logged long before Giant Closed. The ideas for new stores that residents have suggested aren't bad but they won't come to the Center as is and if they did take the gamble, they wouldn't last. None of those stores are anchors therefore they don't draw a large enough percentage of the market to the Center. Village Centers have always been Grocery anchored. The only thing that will bring Wilde Lake back to life is another Grocery Store.
15 years ago Harpers Choice Village Center was all but abandoned, then Safeway built a store there and the merchants and shoppers came back in droves.Now if Oakland Mills can attract a Grocery Store why can't Wilde Lake? Oakland Mills Village Center has the worst location of any Retail Center I've ever seen, yet when they lose a Grocer, they can get another one. Heck, Kimco bought Oakland Mills after the Metro closed and while Kimco owned it, they attracted the current Food Lion before selling it to Cedar Shopping Centers. Back then, the red tape didn't exist for Village Center redevelopment.
Now people talk about blending in Wilde Lake with Town Center. The only time Town Center should be mentioned is in a pitch meeting to a potential Grocer citing the 5,000 new homes projected to be built there and how they would use Wilde Lake to go Grocery Shopping if you opened a store there. I don't hold onto vestiges of yesteryear and hope they will one day become viable again, I think what's viable now and what will remain viable and that is a new bigger Grocery Store. Like I've said many times, there are plenty of reputable Grocery Stores that don't have a niche in West Columbia or Columbia at all that love to stake their claim. Well, Grocers the place you can expand your market base into Columbia is Wilde Lake.
While Kimco and the County have scratching their heads and buying more times I have published both a short term and a long term solution for Wilde Lake.
It might not ultimately keep the current "Village Green" but it can be relocated and thus preserved in a viable manner. I will make no apologies for any of the statements I've made on this post. Here are my two solutions Short Term Long Term