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Differing Visions For the Future of Wilde Lake Village Center

The owner of Wilde Lake Village Center is proposing a revamped site with new buildings. A group of citizens wants the redeveloped village center to have a different look.

The company that owns the increasingly vacant Wilde Lake Village Center and those who live nearby agree that it needs to be redeveloped in order for it to be revitalized. But there are differences of how to go about it.

Kimco Realty Corporation, which owns the village center, wants to add new buildings, putting in a mixture of residential, retail and office space. Its plan would also mean the destruction of a few existing buildings.

A small group of local designers who are longtime residents of Columbia say they largely want the same thing, but they want the look of the village center to be different than the look seen in Kimco’s present proposal.

Kimco will present its latest plans at a meeting of the Wilde Lake Village Board next month. The company must go through both the county planning and zoning process and also must go through the village community association to ensure that the project meets its architectural covenant standards.

What Cy Paumier and others are trying to do, then, is convince Kimco to incorporate others’ ideas into the development plans.

“There are four of us who’ve been working together for this extended period trying to get the developer not to make concessions, but to respond to what we thought were some of the issues that we disagreed with,” said Paumier, a Harper’s Choice resident who was involved with the early planning for Columbia.

“We’ve not really had that much success,” Paumier said. “Those buildings are important, we think, to be restored and made successful. They [Kimco] keep showing us plans that are fairly aggressive and bold.”

One proposed Kimco plan would tear down the former Giant Food grocery store location, which closed in 2006. The building still holds the Today’s Catch Seafood Market.

The two remaining retail and office buildings in the main part of the village center would stay, while a row of shops at nearby Lynx Lane would be modified.

Conceptual drawings of the proposed new village center can be seen above.

Kimco wants to add two residential buildings, a food store, a drug store and a bank.

The residential buildings would be five stories–four stories of apartments on top of one story of parking, with a restaurant in one of the buildings, according to The Columbia Flier. There would be at least 200 apartments, the article said.

The drug store would be 14,000 square feet that would force the closing of the Crown gas station, according to the Flier, while the grocery store could be an expanded version of David’s Natural Market on the first floor and offices on the second.

There would be no typical grocery store–a plan with which Paumier and the other local designers agree.

 “It should be a primary residential area,” Paumier said. “There’s no supermarket potential.”

Geoff Glazer, a vice president at Kimco who has spoken to Wilde Lake residents in the past about his company’s plans, was not available for comment.

Paumier, speaking before the Wilde Lake Village Board earlier this month, said his group’s differences with Kimco include the placement of the buildings and the parking lots.

His group’s proposal calls for tearing down the former Giant but keeping an adjoining building to retain the feel of a courtyard created by three retail and office buildings in the main section of the village center.

Those three buildings would be upgraded and a pair of residential buildings would be constructed nearby. A second phase of construction would focus on the areas near Lynx Lane and the gas station.

Conceptual drawings of the group’s proposal can be seen above.

Kimco’s plans and the group’s plans are “very comparable in terms of parking spaces and the amount of development,” Paumier told the village board and residents.

They differ, however, in terms of where the buildings would be placed and where the parking spaces would be. He called Kimco’s planned parking lot, which would be encircled by buildings, a football-field sized lot that is unfriendly to pedestrians.

One of Kimco’s planned residential buildings would stand on a parking lot presently used by people going to the nearby Wilde Lake Tennis Club.

Larry Schoen, chairman of the Wilde Lake Village Board, said alternative proposals to Kimco’s have been coming in for at least a year and a half.

“There have also been meetings with Kimco and their architects trying to get them interested in these alternate site plans,” Schoen told Patch via e-mail. He said Kimco has not been overly responsive to those proposals, “citing market conditions, their knowledge of what will work, what retail tenants want, etc.”

Kimco officials are scheduled to speak before the village board on May 10. Paumier’s group is slated to speak to residents sometime following the Kimco presentation.

“I think [our] plan would get developed pretty quickly by [Kimco] if they thought that citizens in the community really cared about this,” Paumier said. “I’ve seen citizens turn developers upside down.”

Schoen said he likes the plans presented by Paumier’s group, but that the odds are stacked against them.

“It is an uphill battle to get Kimco to radically change their site plan layout at this point,” Schoen said. “We may have more success getting some other changes the community wants. I don't want to be specific about these at this time.”

Brian England April 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Cy and his friends have some great ideas it is a shame that Kimco is not listening.
Jessie Newburn April 20, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Brian, I was at the WLVB meeting -- happened to be there for other reasons -- when the Board had asked two long-time local commercial leasing agents to address both the plans, side by side.. Again and again (and again), each time the Kimco v "other" plan were looked at in detail, the experienced leasing agents explained to the board that their clients (both smaller and local and larger and national) would prefer the design from Kimco. Personally, I found the conversation astoundingly insightful; equally, I find it baffling that others won't listen to the sage advice of professionals who represent the eventual tenants needed to fill (lease) the spaces available in whomever's plan is executed.
Julia McCready April 20, 2011 at 07:51 PM
The fact the Kimco is willing to redevelop this site is a good sign for Wilde Kake, especially in this economy. Far worse to be striving for investment with a company that just doesn't care.
Howard County Cat Club April 21, 2011 at 12:46 AM
I think Kimco, and just about everyone else, has forgotten about the low-income people who live nearby and need a grocery store they can walk to. What if they don't want to do their daily grocery shopping at David's? What if they can't afford to? The Crown station is not only a convenience for people who live nearby, but it also seems to be a community gathering place. And why should a local business owner be forced to shut his doors just because Kimco would rather see a drugstore there?
Brian England April 21, 2011 at 02:58 AM
You have a good point about the gas station, the center should not loose it in the new plan. David's could do better too. David's has not been part of the public conversation. They do not seem to understand the industry they are in and have done nothing to attact customers or keep them. I have made an effort to shop at David's but the quality of the fruits and vegtables is not a patch on Roots. I paid $3.50 for blueberries a couple of weeks ago and could only eat half of them. I don't know what is going on with David's and Kimco but the result is the same they are not serving the community they do business in.
Harry Schwarz April 24, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Kimco and alternative planners need to appreciate that the WL Village Center is truly a community gathering place. Any plans must support and enhance that reality. I frequently shop at the Hickory Ridge Village Center and rarely see the kind of "hanging out" and community interaction that I see at WL.
Jessie Newburn April 25, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Harry, Loves-loves-loves you as I do, you and I must have different lenses we wear for seeing "hanging out-ness" at WL. In the past several years, every and any time I've stopped by WLVC, the place has been a ghost town. A particular memory is going last summer on one of exquisitely beautiful days where the sun was warm but the air had a gentle breeze. The flowers were beautiful and bright. It was a weekend, and I was there in the afternoon. It was a perfect day to be out; however, I saw but a handful of people there.
Linda May 12, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Lucy Lou...I agree with you about both the accessibility of an affordable grocery store and the convenience (and competition!) that the Crown Gas Stations affords the Wilde Lake community! Join us on Facebook at the "Wilde Lake needs a Grocery" Group page.

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