Friday, March 30, 2012

Elkridge Corners Redevelopment

My Proposed Redevelopment of Elkridge Corners

In addition to talking about the Schools, another purpose of this blog is to urbanize Howard County. I don't advocate turning it into Baltimore, more like Rockville, Towson, Bethesda, or Silver Spring. They're all suburbs but have high density housing, retail, and offices in addition to lower density single family homes. As demand for housing of all types continues to increase and available land continues to decrease, it's time to look for smart solutions to meet the demand. One of these demands includes redeveloping old suburban areas and replacing them with higher density mixed used centers. The first one, I'm going to discuss is Elkridge Corners and the adjacent Lawyers Hill Apartments. 
Elkridge Corners, like its name suggests is located in the high growth area of Elkridge across Montgomery Road from the new Elkridge Crossing Development which is the perfect example of urbanization in the suburbs. I think Elkridge Corners along with Lawyers Hill Apartments can be redeveloped with the end result being that of a higher density mixed use center.  
There are two fundamentals that are essentials in redeveloping a suburban Shopping Center into an urbanized mixed use center. The first is parking, sprawling parking lots are valuable real estate that can be built upon. A parking garage either under or above ground covers less ground but still offers ample parking. Now parking garages are not the most attractive structures in the world so a lot of developments hide them by putting them in the middle of the development and building Retail, Office, and Residences on all four sides of it. The second fundamental is an increase in building height, when urbanizing an area space is at a premium so in order to keep development compact one has to build up instead of out. 
 Now for the fun stuff of what goes where. Currently there is a Green Valley Marketplace with a dated facade at the southern end of the Shopping Center. That would be knocked down and rebuilt with Route 1 frontage although the actual doors will face the parking garage it will only appear to face Route 1 to enhance curb appeal and draw in shoppers. The building will not be shorter than the parking garage as it will hide it. The new building, like its predecessor will be roughly 40,000 square feet but will have a grand modern facade. The Route 1 entrance to the center will now boast a traffic signal.
The rest of the Retail which includes Pizza Hut, Cindy's Spirits, BB&T Bank, Rite Aid, a Dry Cleaners, a Nail Salon and a Chinese Restaurant. They will be redeveloped and placed along Montgomery Road to hide that side of the parking garage. The Montgomery Road entrance will be even with Elkridge Crossing Way and a traffic signal will be placed here. Apartments and Condos will be located above these Retail Shops. Both the BB&T Bank and Rite Aid will have drive thrus to serve their customer's needs.  
The current Green Valley Market Place building and the current Retail shops will be knocked down and in place of the Green Valley Market Place building will be an Apartment Building and a Condo Building will be where the Retail strips currently are thus completing the four sides to hide the parking garage. Behind Elkridge Corners is the old Lawyers Hill Apartments, as part of the Elkridge Crossing redevelopment I've slated Lawyers Hill Apartments for redevelopment as well. They will be replaced with Town Homes of varying sizes to provide housing for varying income levels. When it's all said and done the number of new housing will be as follows 220 Apartments and Condos and 45 Town Homes minus the loss of Lawyers Hill Apartments. Construction on housing won't begin until 2014 after Elementary School #41 opens and Middle School #20 have both opened as the area's Schools are too crowded right now. 
Like I said a goal of this blog is to urbanize Howard County so this post is the first of many that will propose redevelopment of this nature. As Howard County reaches build out and older parts of the County continue to age this type of redevelopment will be crucial to keeping Howard County viable.

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