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
http://columbiafuture.blogspot.com/2009/06/walgreens-to-rescue.html Short Term
http://columbiafuture.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-to-best-redevelop-wilde-lake.html Long Term


Anonymous said...

The entire county ran out of master plan in 2009 and DPZ yawned. No one is planning because they know residents are watching and now want a good plan. Since the planners have an agenda that collides with residents, they would rather surprise us. Otherwise the real plan would be publicly posted.

Anonymous said...

LOL - loved the 'aging hippies' comment. As usual you've done a great job. What a sad situation this area is in, especially when I see other planned communities like Reston where they have dealt successfully with updating and rennovating parts of the original infrastructure.

Michael said...

Kudos on your interest in Wilde Lake Village Center. To be fair to Kimco, the rules required them not to reveal their plans until the next meeting. This process was suppose the give time for the community to get involved. However, it is difficult to get involved without some community organization. The Wile Lake Community Association needs to solicit more community involvement.

Anonymous said...

Reston?! Who want's Columbia to be like Reston, this blog host?

I don't think so. Blog host, pls clarify.

Reston residents can't even GET to the grocery because of traffic.

Spence said...

Reston is another planned Community just like Columbia. If traffic is so bad like you say it is Reston has an issue that's completely different than Columbia and their lack of mass transit ridership needs to be adressed there. Now Wilde Lake should be so lucky because that much traffic would mean that Wilde Lake has regained its vitality. Other parts of Columbia have experienced traffic problems such as the big box Centers in Dobbin and Snowden as well as Town Center. Now Reston has its own attributes that draws people to it and Columbia has its own as well. Columbia should not loose its identity to be like Reston or anywhere else. It should however, adjust to the market where properties need to be reinvested in or redeveloped completely to give that section of Columbia its identity that it lost.

Anonymous said...

I grew up around Columbia and have lived in Reston too. Although there is a ton of traffic in Reston, the downtown feel is completely different. There are at least 8 high rise condo buildings, and many more low rise ones, all within WALKING distance to numerous restaurants, shopping, and grocery stores. I know that Columbia Town Center has similar attributes on paper, but the atmosphere is totally different. Even at night, the Reston Town Center feels like a vibrant small city. I used to get that feeling in downtown Columbia, but no more.
Although the villages in Reston are not quite as structured as Columbia's, it is very easy to reach many of them on foot from the surrounding residences. The comments I previously made referred to the revitalization of two of the village centers which were starting to become run down and less popular, kind of the successful transformation that Harper's Choice VC went through.