Thursday, February 11, 2016

Owen Brown Village Center Redevelopment

Since the life of a Village Center is constantly changing and evolving, I don't find it strange that I'm proposing more redevelopment efforts at Owen Brown Village Center. In the early 2000s, GFS Realty, them owner of Owen Brown demolished a row of stores and rebuilt closer to the front of the Center and used the space once occupied by the old row of stores to expand the Giant. This created a newly modernized Giant and a new row of stores but that's it.
Had GFS Realty wanted to spent the money and do it right, they would have built a new Giant roughly where the new row of stores are, demolished the two back strips of stores and built the entire Center facing Cradlerock Way. The finished product would have looked like Dorsey's Search Village Center. But as it stands now, the Giant cuts the Village Center in half and only the front half sees foot traffic. The back half resembles a ghost town. My redevelopment plan although it doesn;t include building a new Giant, it does include demolishing the back half and redeveloping those spaces as ground floor Retail to a new Apartment Building (like in Wilde Lake) and the entire Center will flow smoother.
To minimize disruption to existing businesses, work would have to be done in phases. The first phase is to build two pad sites just to the right of the Interfaith Center on what is now fields.The pad sites will include Bank of America and the other one include Sonoma's Bar & Grille. Also part of Phase I would be to rebuild the small professional building behind the Bank of America. The new location for this building will be the nook that is in between the Giant and the Avis Car Rental. Once Phase I is completed both the small professional building and the Bank of America Building will be demolished and the space Somona's is currently in will never host another tenant again.
Phase II includes building the Apartments. The building will be located just left of the existing building and where the Bank of America once stood. It will run back towards the old professional building I had demolished. It will have ground floor Retail. The attached Parking Garage will have Apartments on all sides of it and will be placed on an unused parking lot at the back of the Center. The parking garage will also contain ground floor Retail. 
The ground floor Retail will contain the stores that are currently in the back half (Warren's Barbershop, Future Nails, Chick 'N Friends, Budget/Avis Rent-A-Car, and Hunan Master/Chinese Gourmet. With Sonoma's moving to a pad site, there will be three vacancies now. I will build these vacancies into the new Retail to lure three new tenants into the Center. My ideas include; An Ice Cream/FroYo Shop, Women's Hair Salon/Spa, Ethnic Hair Salon, Kabob, and Sushi/Fo Asian Fusion Restaurant. Once this has all been built, the back half of the Center will be demolished.             
Phase III includes the professional Center. This will be relocated behind the Giant so that the illusion that the Center is being cut in half by the Giant is lessened. After that, the existing professional Center will be demolished. Phase IV is a simple one that includes updating the existing facades to match the new construction. A Village Green will be built close to the tunnel going under Cradlerock Way to expand Lake Elkhorn into the Village Center. The road will access all new and existing structures and will start and stop at existing locations. With an updated flow of the Village Center, Owen Brown will stay viable for years to come.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Mixed Use Village Centers Coming Soon

With Kimco in the process of redeveloping Wilde Lake Village Center as a mixed use by ading Apartments into the mix, it showed that perhaps other ailing Village Centers without a full service grocer anchor tenant can go the way of mixed use and build a larger critical mass while attracting people to the centers in other ways.
Enter the County who has purchased Long Reach Village Center when it lost its anchor tenant and is attempting to redevelop the Center as a mix of Retail, Apartments, with a strong Arts Component. Columbia already has an Arts Center in Long Reach but the County is trying to move its Arts programs currently at the old Rockland Elementary School to Long Reach as well. In addition, one of the redevelopment proposals shows a portion of the old Safeway space being used as Artist space while some of the proposed Apartments will be subsidized for Artists. 
At first it seemed that this mixed use redevelopment was only an option for struggling Village Centers with no Grocery Store, indeed the void left by a vacant Grocery Store will make the Center more of a blank slate for redevelopment. But then Kimco did something that surprised me. It probably surprised many others as well. It submitted a site plan of a redeveloped Hickory Ridge Village Center as mixed use. Hickory Ridge is one of Columbia's most successful Village Centers anchored by a high Volume Giant. So what's the deal?
I can't speak for Kimco but I believe that coming up with plans like this is to ensure other Village Centers remain modern and viable by keeping large critical masses living near and in the Village Centers. They probably chose Hickory Ridge because it mostly has lower density Single Family Homes surrounding it. The Giant has no plans to leave the center and Kimco's plans shows Giant in the same anchor spot.
The current layout of the Village Center shows a pedestrian promenade known as "The Avenue" with shops on either side of it. There are also parking lots both in front of and in back in of the Avenue. The strip of shops that doesn't have the Giant is proposed to be demolished to give the Center an open feel. The Apartments would go on a parcel of the front parking lot closest to the Cedar Lane and Freetown Road intersection with the majority of the Retail from the demolished strip would be located on the ground floor of the Apartments. There are three Retail pad sites proposed which would most likely contain the larger footprint Restaurants (Luna Bella, Peking Chef, Hickory Ridge Grille.) The Retail strip connected to the Giant would remain unchanged as will the Sunoco Gas Station.
Upon coming across these redevelopment plans, I began looking at the other six Village Centers in Columbia and I began looking at parcels surrounding the Centers and their space for mixed use while simultaneously opening them up to give them better road visibility. I was able to easily come up with mixed use redevelopment plans for all of the Village Center with the exception of Harpers Choice which already has loft Apartments above it. The following posts will address each Village Center in detail and my plan to redevelop it to keep it viable for decades to come.