Panel Investigates Towns For Odenton Design Ideas

August 30, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

An 18-member committee planning a new Odenton took to the road Wednesday, touring developments in suburban Washington looking for ideas to incorporate into Anne Arundel's third town center.

From the refurbished main street in Laurel to the neo-traditional design in Gaithersburg, committee members came home with several plans they say couldwork in Odenton's 218-acre town center site.

The trick in the coming year will be designing a plan that works for both residents and developers and fits into Odenton's historic district that dates back to the early 1900s.

"Each of the plans could be visualized in different areas of Odenton," said Pat Wellford, president of the Odenton Improvement Association.

The committee, made up of residents, developers and county planners, was organized in April. By July 1992, the group is scheduled to have put together rulesthat developers who want to build in the town center will have to follow.

The committee will not come up with a specific design, but instead will create a concept and regulations of how the town center will look.

Wednesday's tour gave committee members a first-hand look at what county officials mean by "concept."

In Virginia, they toured Reston Town Center, a compact city complete with 12-story buildings and brick streets lined with outdoor cafes.

The center, only about 20 percent completed, serves a community of 100,000 people that started in the 1960s. The center of the town, called Fountain Square,resembles Washington Harbor Place near Georgetown.

"They set out to build an urban downtown," said Bruce Galloway, a consultant hired by the county to oversee the design of Odenton Town Center. "The onlyway you get around is on foot," he said of the Reston project.

Onone side of the street were the 12-story buildings; on the other side were three-story strips, with stores and restaurants on thebottom and apartments on top.

Committee members found the complete opposite at their next stop, the Kentlands in Gaithersburg.

The developers are turning an old farm into a small town -- getting away from the sprawl of town homes and apartments and building tree-lined streets in a grid-like pattern, mixing business and residences into a neighborhood that mirrors middle America 40 years ago.

The streets of Kentland are narrow, and the homes are different colors and shapes and sizes -- described as neo-traditional or modern-colonial. Annapolis served as a model.

"Anne Arundel County would never allow a developerto build such narrow streets," Galloway said.

The committee also got a taste of a more common design, visiting the Halle Cos.' 5,500-unit development in Alexandria called Kingstowne.

Located on a 1,100-acre site, the town center design includes a Giant Food and other stores grouped in one section surrounded by office buildings.

In Laurel, the group found redbrick streets and buildings constructed to fit into a designated historic district, something community residentswould like to see near Odenton's MARC train station.

Committee members liked what they saw in Reston, although some said it was imposing, and were impressed with the Kentlands. Both developments started from empty pieces of land.

In Odenton, the committee has to deal with existing buildings, from historic old banks near the train station to fast-food restau

rants and taverns lining Route 175 in Boomtown -- an area of concern for the committee.

"The key word is concept," Wellford said. "How do we see asidewalk? How do we want to see trees? What kind of feeling do we want to have? Do we see a main street in our town or a metropolis kind of thing?"

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