Columbia’s first village center, Wilde Lake, appears to be on a path to resurrection. At a recent village board meeting, representatives from Kimco Realty Corp., the current owner, presented a proposal and initiated a critical part of the process for redesigning and renovating the property.
Opened in 1967, Wilde Lake’s anchor store, Giant Food, closed in 2006. Other shops also closed, leading Kimco and area residents to re-evaluate the village center’s future. A 2008 plan by Kimco called for a mixed-use development to include 500 apartments, but residents opposed that number of new housing units.
In December 2009, the village board drafted the Village Center Community Plan to provide guidance for future village center development. Kimco began a rezoning process with Howard County in the summer of 2010, and also started a parallel covenant process with the Wilde Lake Village Board.
The recent meeting moved resurrection hopes for the village center beyond the initial planning stages and into the earliest part of the approval process. Redevelopment could begin as early as autumn 2012.
The Covenant Process
“Kimco has presented its general plan,” said Bill Santos, chairman of the village board. “This is the start of the Homeowners Association’s covenant process of nonresidential properties. The community had three weeks to comment, and we’ve received 35 e-mails expressing a variety of opinions.”
The village board’s staff generated a report summarizing the opinions and presented that report to the board and Kimco. Kimco now has a year to deliver to the board a written submission complete with site plans, landscaping plans and all details of the proposed redevelopment.
However, “Kimco said that it would submit its application soon,” Santos said.
But delivering the application is just one step along a course described by former board chairperson Rhoda Toback as “very convoluted” with “multifaceted layers … and many levels of plans.”
Kimco’s application will be reviewed for completeness by the village board’s covenant adviser, Kristin Shulder.
“The adviser forwards the application to the architectural advisory panel” which consists of a group of volunteer architects and landscape architects, said Santos. “They review the application and, based on a meeting with the architectural liaison, approve, approve with modifications or deny the application. If the liaison approves the application, it’s on to the county for zoning.”
Motion Brings Controversy
Many people in the community are pleased that the process has reached this point.
“Kimco is certainly going through the steps,” said Mike Davis, senior partner with Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, who lives in Wilde Lake and attended the meeting.
However, not everyone is happy with Kimco’s plan, which includes several buildings (including two new residential buildings) with as many as 250 apartments and parking underneath, encircling the center’s courtyard and a parking lot.
The former Giant building and an adjacent structure would have to be torn down to open one end of the courtyard and to extend one entrance from Twin Rivers Road through the center to Cross Fox Lane.
“Some people in the community want a better plan,” said Davis. “A major point of contention is whether to save the old Giant Supermarket building.”
According to Geoff Glazer, Kimco vice president of development for this region, the company has listened to community suggestions, but must ultimately go with what it thinks is the best configuration for its center.