Developers break ground on housing for seniors

200 attend ceremony for Crofton center

July 09, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan and La Quinta Dixon | TaNoah Morgan and La Quinta Dixon,SUN STAFF

Community meetings, planning snags and government red tape held up a one-of-a-kind development in west Anne Arundel County for five years, but developers broke ground yesterday on the Village at Waugh Chapel, an unprecedented combination of homes and stores that is expected to serve as a model for town centers countywide.

The new village will include shopping, restaurants and entertainment in the same square as senior housing and child development centers.

"It's going to be a beautiful facility, not just a shopping center," said Brian Gibbons, president and chief executive officer of the Erwin L. Greenberg Commercial Corp., which is developing the 72-acre site.

The $50 million project at Waugh Chapel Road and Route 3 has been promoted as a model for town centers to be built in Glen Burnie, Odenton and Parole. It is hoped that the combinations in the town centers will revitalize aging communities.

From the start with the Village at

Waugh Chapel, community leaders were asked to help plan what would be in the development and how it would look. The project has taken a few more years to get off the ground because of meetings with residents and because it took two pieces of legislation to legalize the mixed-use zoning. The county also wanted special concessions, such as guaranteed green space.

But the finished product will bring jobs and services to an area starving for commercial attention, and tax revenue to a county strained by a tax cap.

"We don't need more fast-food places; we need fine dining," said Hal Counihan, former president of the homeowners association in nearby Bretton Woods. "We need to have an integrated retirement community in a shopping area and have a focal point for culture."

Although only seniors will live in the 770,000-square-foot development, the shopping center is expected to be a hub that attracts much of the community. The Village at Waugh Chapel will include colorful townhouses built over a 10,000-square-foot community center, restaurants, dry cleaners, doctors' offices and a 54,000-square-foot sports center.

Safeway has signed on to anchor the development, and Rite-Aid drugstore, All First Bank, Dress Barn and Rack Room shoe stores have made plans to locate there, the developers said.

Three complexes of housing for seniors -- 80 assisted-living, 150 independent-living and 108 condominium units -- will sit in the northwest corner of the development overlooking a 3-acre man-made pond that will double as a stormwater management system.

About 200 people gathered under a tent yesterday at the end of a farm road off Route 3 for the groundbreaking, at which County Executive Janet S. Owens accepted easement rights for the county to a 127-acre farm in Lothian.

As part of the agreement with the county, the developers bought the farm to preserve it. The farm provides twice as much green space as will be taken up by the development.

The project will include $1.4 million in road improvements, including the widening of Waugh Chapel Road from four to six lanes and an extension of Riedel Road.

The county also gets nearly $4 million in one-time fees and costs associated with the project, which should take about 18 months to complete. The development is expected to create 600 permanent jobs and generate nearly $5 million in taxes to the county and state.

Some residents expressed their approval at the ceremony.

"What we can expect is a safe, environmentally sound, beautiful center that will afford housing for our seniors and [we'll] have the kind of businesses that are community-oriented and not just big boxes," said Joan Berry, president of Four Seasons Community Association. She was part of the committee that worked with developers.

Counihan said, "You would like to have some of the amenities in an easy drive, and I think that's what Waugh Chapel is offering."

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