Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wilde Lake Village Center: The Plans Are In!

Photo from the Columbia Flier
Now I made a promise to myself that I would wait until Kimco unveiled its plans for Wilde Lake Village Center before I ripped them to shreds. And rip them to shreds I will. Those of you who attended the meeting this past Thursday heard me ask where the Full Service Grocer was (I was called on first) Kimco remains firm that no Grocer is interested. Now being the good little residents that we are have no option but to believe them. If you've ever read this blog you will know that I am anything but and I will question how strongly Kimco pursued Full Service Grocers.
Now would I bad mouth Kimco's plan if I didn't have my own plan? Nope, it's easy to bad mouth something without a viable solution of your own (just ask a member of the Tea Party) but a big reason I don't like what Kimco has brought to the table is because I do have a viable solution that includes a Full Service Anchor and the Apartments Kimco is so enthusiastic about. I was never against them. At one point I had a plan that a Full Service Grocer AND all 500 apartments. This one has the 215 that Kimco's current calls for.This parking lot and the vacant Giant (far left) once demolished will be the site of the new Full Service Grocer. It will face Twin Rivers Road and will be easily accessible through any part of the Center whether it be the old Village Green Shops or Lynx Lane. It will house Offices above it. I'm thinking a Mars or a Superfresh would love to stake a claim in West Columbia which is dominated by Giants and Safeways to capture its share of the Market which will undoubtedly grow with 5500 new units of housing in Town Center. The building will be demolished to make way for additional parking. The Village Green in the foreground will remain and may be enhanced to provide more plush landscaping and better lighting. Although the Village Green will stay intact, some trees may have to be cut down in favor of shorter vegetation to give a more open feeling. All the businesses in the demolished buildings except for Pizza Bolis will be reloacted to a new building on Lynx Lane.
One thing that got my attention in Kimco's plan was the idea of locating the Bank in its own Building. I support this so the Columbia Bank will get its own Building at the southern end of Lynx Lane just before Cross Fox. This will allow for the demolition of the Columbia Bank's current drive up banking structure. Now the Columbia Bank paired with the second entrance to the vacant Giant (pictured below) once housed as any as three businesses; Ridings Liquors, The Cheese Shoppe, and the Butcher Shoppe.This "new" entrance to the vacant Giant (early 1990s) paired with the Columbia Bank, which will gets its own building will make room for three new tenants. The one closest to Star Nails will be a new Pharmacy Counter similar to the departed Medicine Shoppe. The new Grocer may not have a Pharmacy of its own. In the middle will be a Pizza Bolis. Its current foot print is way too big for its purpose. Nobody EVER sits at its tables and they add to the desolate feeling in the Village Green. All other Pizza chains that are delivery based have very small foot prints. Now the space that roughly housed the old Ridings Liquors will be a home to "Yogi Castle", a Frozen Yogurt place that just opened in Ellicott City and has been a draw to that Shopping Center and with its strategic location in Wilde Lake, it will draw patrons into the Village Green.David's will move roughly to where the vacated Produce Galore sits (more about that later) Here is where the demolished businesses will relocate (The current David's will be demolished and a new building will rise in its place). Above will be one of the four story Apartment Buildings with 108 units. Below will be the Melting Pot, Wilde Lake Karate, The Bagel Bin, Quiznos, and Tokoyo Cafe. These are some of the healthiest businesses in the Center most notably the Melting Pot and Wilde Lake Karate. This may also be a good opportunity for some of the Businesses moving here to retool and recapture their market share. The Bagel Bin can shift its focus on Coffee and Tea and market itself as a Coffee House. There was desire by a meeting attendee for a Starbucks and a Starbucks will drive the Bagel Bin out. When Tokyo Cafe opened several years ago Japanese Restaurants weren't a dime a dozen like they are today. It needs a gimmick to set it apart. My suggestion? Have the cooks prepare your meal table side. The Quiznos will be a new business that will be a draw. West Columbia lacks one yet EVERY other Village Center in West Columbia and two in East Columbia have a Subway. This will further set Wilde Lake apart and draw patrons into the Center.
Now the vacated Produce Galore will be demolished and just like the Kimco plan will house 27,000 Square feet of retail. David's will take 18,000 and the remaining 9,000 will be divided evenly to the other three existing Lynx Lane businesses (Acheiver's Hair Salon, The Ups Store, and Hunan Family) and the other 107 Apartments. I would like to point out that Lynx Lane was once home to a lot more retail businesses. Both Produce Galore and David's expanded once their leases expired. David's was tiny it has since taken over Wilhides Flowers, Mailboxes Etc, Omaha Steaks, a Bakery, a Maternity Consignment Shop, JK Pub, and Duron Paints. Produce Galore was also small, it shared its building with a Hardware Store which it over took and the Building's footprint was expanded at least twice during the 1990s to house the growing business. It's quite remarkable that Produce Galore thrived in the same Village Center for over 25 years.Now Kimco's plan for the Apartment Buildings is to give them their own green spaces in the back. I'm scrapping that because of their ground floor retail. But in between the two I will put in a second Village Green roughly where the above picture was taken. This would have been a parking lot in Kimco's plan. My plan gives not only a Full Service Grocer but more public Green Space.Now back to the Village Green. With the Melting Pot building demolished the Village Green will be visible from Twin Rivers Road. This will make back filling the vacancies left by the Medicine Shoppe and Feet First easier. Also struggling businesses (with the help of the new Grocer) will see new business. I'm thinking a Day Spa for the old Feet First space and a maybe a Jewler and a Florist for the Medicine Shoppe.Now this covered area will remain largely the same. Of course the vacant Giant in the background will be demolished and the end of the covered area will lead to the new Grocer which will be set back from existing retail. Well that's my plan for Wilde Lake Village Center. It includes keeping the Gas Station (Kimco's doesn't) a Full Service Grocer, (Kimco's doesn't), and two Village Greens (Kimco's doesn't) now be warned Kimco, I'm not convinced that you've exhausted all Full Service Grocer options. I will be trying to get in contact with a number of potential tenants to see if you've wooed them. If you haven't, I will and I would suggest to anyone reading this post who agrees with me to do the same.

Now in order for this to work, Wilde Lake as a Village needs both reinvestment and redevelopment of older blighted properties. With Wilde Lake full of new construction, new tenants for the Village Center will be easier to attract. Below are links to older posts I've published calling for reinvestment of existing housing stock and the redevelopment of housing stock that's too far-gone.
http://columbiafuture.blogspot.com/2010/01/wilde-lake-reinvestment.html
and
http://columbiafuture.blogspot.com/2008/12/wilde-lake-redevelopment.html

12 comments:

Jessiex said...

I routinely find your perspective fascinating. You demonstrate vision, will and not a modicum of business sense. Perhaps a job in a company where you have to work on bottom line, profitability and a few projects that are a little more complex than your current thinking indicates will cure you of your propensity to make claims that sound like, "oh, in my plan, I'll just move such-and-such store over here!"

I don't doubt your sincerity, your vision or your feeling of wanting to do more and to do great things. My suspicion is that you will find yourself much more successful in such matters when you start treating the items in your plan less like virtual building blocks that some game allows you to willy-nilly move around and more like real buildings, real structures, real people and real businesses.

Doesn't mean you can't move mountains. Or that you won't. But nor will YOU move a business by your choice or desire. (Unless you know how to transmute matter like some yogis do.) Perhaps a job in construction or property management would cure you from such thinking.

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective. Like Jessie, I must wonder how realistic your plan may be.

First, whether we want to admit it or not, our shopping habits have changed. We shop at Costco, Target, Trader Joe's, Walmart and Safeway. And, when Wegman's is built, we will shop there. With the proximity of so many options, why would anyone want to build in a Class C location? I think Kimco has been honest about this point. If a major grocer was available to anchor Wilde Lake, Kimco would be crazy not to sign it up.

Second, Kimco has a $30 million plan. With its background in retail and the willingness to make such an investment, I am just guessing that maybe, just maybe they will try to use the 9 acres to the best advantage. Of course, if you owned Wilde Lake instead, then you could design it your way.

Finally, echoing Jessie, I do admire the time and effort you put into your suggestions. Hopefully, Kimco will take a look and, if you presented an idea they can use, you will see it in the next presentation.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of how ghetto parts of columbia are getting.A couple of black guys recently tried to burn down the Wilde Lake village center. They were seen on the Citgo's cameras but not clearly enough to ID them. You wont see any news articles on that (or the guy who was shot in the head on Gov. Warfield near the mall in broad daylight a couple months ago) but you can drive up and see all the fire damage and boarded up windows. There is also a lot of gang spray paint signs going up in the neighborhood. I've seen "B'ULLS" & "Fk" sprayed a lot of places. Hopefully the redevelopment will bring in some classy people to improve the neighborhood and not more section 8. There is a lot of crime here that you don't see reported (in the news) anywhere. We need to push the thugs out of Wilde Lake, not add 500 more rental properties to house them.

Anonymous said...

This is obviously a hot topic. To Jessiex I say, often the best ideas come from ousiders, dreamers, those not content to swallow whole what a corporate spokesman says (so it must be accurate!.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:26,

5 years of work by Kimco to bring a supermarket to Wilde Lake has not produced results.

5 years of dreamers to bring a supermarket to Wilde Lake has not produced results.

This is at best a draw.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a supermarket is a pipe dream. Modern supermarkets are more than twice the size as the ones originally built in Columbia, and they need to draw people from further away than our village. There is a large Safeway a half mile away, and a Giant another mile and a half away. I can believe that there are no takers. What annoys me is that this problem was festering for years before the Giant closed. It was obvious that it would not last, yet no contingency plans (I assume) were made.

Spence said...

If you read other posts of mine, you will see that I strongly support large scale redevelopment of older failing housing developments in Columbia. Wilde Lake is one of those places, if new housing were built (in addition to the Village Center Apts) nearby with a better income mix I do believe a Grocer can be lured given that the entire residential climate will have changed.

Spence said...

For the person working at Kimco, my question for you is; where is Kevin Allen? In the beginning he was the main force behind bringing a Grocer back to Wilde Lake. On vacant store fronts his contact info is listed so he's still employed there. It appears that when the big wigs got involved they came up with this plan almost as a concept. Kevin Allen has said that in the past that Kimco's specialty is Grocery anchored neighborhood retail not unlike Wilde Lake. He was employed with the Rouse Co. before the Village Centers were sold and went to work for Kimco afterwords. I think his expertise is better suited than those who are currently in charge. After all, Kimco owned Oakland Mills at the time they lured the Food Lion. If you can get a Grocer to Oakland Mills after three failed you can get one in Wilde Lake after just one failed.

Spence said...

JessieX, the purpose of Master Planning in my opinion is to think up scenarios of improvement in the "best case" no matter what in Wilde Lake businesses and lives will be changed by the redevelopment in Wilde Lake just they already have. Kimco has plenty of occupied structures being knocked down were businesses will either have to move to a new storefront or leave all together. Kimco seems a lot less interested in keeping current tenants. The drug store they proposed is set to be built on the grounds of the Crown Gas Station thus forcing them out. Will describing a food store they were vague on whether or not it will be David's or not. They same with the new Bank Building they weren't holding a torch to make sure it's the Columbia Bank. Also smaller merchants, the ones struggling the most weren't even mentioned. I mention them all and I want each and every one to stay in the Village Center and thrive. You can see this in my plans. It is true businesses and lives will be changed and uprooted but will it be to a new storefront? or out of business? I hope for the sake of the merchants and residents it's Option A.

Jason Johnson Columbia Md Mortgage said...

You definitely don't want struggling businesses to go under and you also don't want to be stagnant. So I think you have to find that happy medium were you are staying true to your values but also have an eye on the future. If all of the shopping centers are updating and renovating you do not want to lose more business to them because yours is outdated. I see both sides of the argument but I lean towards always having one eye on the future so that you don't get left behind.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Spence.
It is a breath of fresh air to read a blog that does not spew hate, bile and distortions. Keep up the good work.
Please contact each member of the
Wilde Lake Village Board with your
ideas. You must know that the Board
has received hundreds of hours of
pro bono assistance from Bob Tennenbaum. Nick Mangraviti, Jervis..and Cy Paumier, internationally know and respected architects and residents of Wilde Lake Village

The continued red herring in the discussion of WLVC's future is the grocery store issue. The VB has understood and accepted that a major
grocer cannot come in.
However, there is a trend towards major grocers establishing much smaller stores in places like WL.

Consider the contradiction created when Kimco desires 200 residential units and simultaneously claims ther would not be enough patronage to support a small grocer....either ndependent or the above, or a Mom and Pop like dots Baltimore.
Also consider neither MKS who has supported the destruction of the VC nor Kimco have provided any data to
support claims about small grocers.
Also consider the demographics...hundreds of apts turned condo and apts unturned, surround the village center. There has been real hardship created for people.
Also consider that Kimco never needed a residential zoning grant to
redevelop the center. I am in agreement with posters that Kimco wants to rid the center of its current merchants and bring in the standard sterile major chains (albeit the small ones)Kimco is a strip mall developer.
Also consider that WLVB supported David's food store and David's was/maybe still is willing to provide basic food and house hold supplies, the compromise which incidentally has been the board's position for at least two years.
A balance between residents needs and corporate profit requirements has always been respected and understood by the WLVB
It would be gratifying to read comments from the entrenched opponents of any resident-respectful development, which use
accuracy in language instead of setting up false premises and spend
endless hours promoting them and demonizing those with the temerity to disagree.
This post is from Mary Pivar -never anonymous

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