Hearing For Citizen Input Planned On Hickory Ridge Village Center

December 12, 1990|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

Residents of the Village of Hickory Ridge said they wanted a Giant Food store in their new village center, according to a survey by the Rouse Co., and they're going to get one if things go as planned.

But residents who want to have further input can attend a hearing on the proposed village center before the county's Planning Board next Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.

The new village center will be built on about 19 acres off Cedar Lane.

The site also is bordered by Freetown and Quarterstaff roads. Construction of the center, which will begin next spring or summer, should be completed by the spring of 1992, said Gerald E. Brock, vice president of the Rouse Co. and senior development director. Access will be from Freetown and Quarterstaff roads, not Cedar Lane.

The Rouse Co., developers of Columbia, announced in mid-November that they closed a deal with Giant Food Inc. to provide the anchor store for the newest village center to be developed in the planned city of 75,000.

The village center will boast Columbia's second 55,000-square-foot gourmet Giant. Columbia's first 55,000-square-foot Giant store is located in the Dorsey Search Village Center. In addition to the Giant, the Hickory Ridge village center will provide another 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of space for other retail shops, services and offices.

Hickory Ridge Village Board members said this week they are satisfied with Rouse's plans for the site. During a Nov. 19 meeting attended by Rouse officials, board members and several residents, only minor concerns were expressed about the plans. Concerns included the type of screening being considered between nearby homes and the center, said James E. Loesch, a former board member.

Loesch, now the Hickory Ridge representative on the nine-member Columbia Council, said some residents wanted a fast-food restaurant that was different from those at other village centers in town.

"Let's put it this way. They're hoping to get something other than a Hardee's or McDonald's," he said.

Loesch said Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Burger King should all be considered. The Village Board also hopes that Rouse will bring in one "independent" eatery, such as a pub, pizza place or Chinese restaurant, he said.

One board member recommended that if the center includes a hair-styling salon, it should be one that specializes in hair care for black people. No such shops now exist in Columbia, Loesch said.

Board members said the community seems generally in favor of the new center. Board Chairman Mike Rethman said he has received no feedback from residents opposing its construction.

Hickory Ridge, the largest of Columbia's nine villages in size and population, is one of only two villages currently without a village center.

The Village of Town Center, which is built around the Mall in Columbia, is the other.

Even the new and smaller Dorsey Search has had its own center since September 1989.

Rethman speculated that the Rouse Co. postponed building the Hickory Ridge center because residents there had access to grocery stores and services in the villages of Wilde Lake, Harper's Choice, Owen Brown and King's Contrivance.

Brock said the village center's construction has been delayed until the population in Hickory Ridge was large enough to support it. Although Hickory Ridge is a large village, until the newest neighborhood -- Clary's Forest -- was built, the village was largely single-family homes and not as densely populated as other villages, he said.

With Clary's Forest nearly complete, which includes town houses and apartments as well as single-family homes, the anchor stores with which Rouse was negotiating became convinced Hickory Ridge was a viable site, Brock said.

The new village center will include the "basic mix" of stores and services found in most village centers, Brock said, including a grocery store, dry cleaners, video store, gas station, fast-food restaurant, hair stylist and liquor store.

Loesch said he did not think construction of the new center would cause traffic problems in the area, especially since Cedar Lane is being widened from two to four lanes. Road improvements also are being completed on Freetown Road.

Rouse officials said the company conducted a survey of 300 area homes while negotiating with grocery store chains to determine which chain would anchor the new center. Survey results showed Giant coming out on top over rival Safeway Stores Inc., Rouse officials said.

The Rouse Co. currently owns and operates six of the seven village centers in Columbia and will also own and operate Hickory Ridge when completed. Giant Food owns and operates the center located in the Village of Owen Brown.

Four of the village centers now have Giant grocery stores, and Hickory Ridge will be the fifth. The village center in Long Reach features a Safeway store, and the Harper's Choice and King's Contrivance village centers have Valu Food Supermarkets.

Rouse's overall plan for the Cedar Lane site includes three other smaller parcels of land, but what will be developed on those sites remains unclear.

Rouse intends to turn one three-acre parcel over to the Columbia Association for use as a neighborhood center. Rethman said the Village Board has asked the Columbia Association for planning money to determine how best to use that site for the village's and Columbia's needs.

No specific uses have been determined for two other small sites bordering the center, Brock said.

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