Gateway Overlook building to begin

Planning Board OKs retail part of project

September 17, 2006|By a sun reporter

Construction of a sprawling, multimillion-dollar residential and retail compound on the edge of Columbia is expected to begin next month.

The last major obstacles to the retail component of the project, Gateway Overlook, were removed Thursday night when the Planning Board unanimously approved two measures sought by the developer, General Growth Properties Inc.

The first was an amendment to permit a tightly restricted gasoline station on the property. The board had previously objected to that sector in the development.

The second was for a site development plan for a unit of Costco Wholesale Corp., one of the anchors at Gateway Overlook.

The 123-acre development is bounded by Route 175, Route 108, Lark Brown Road and Old Waterloo Road.

Undeveloped parcel

It is one of the last large undeveloped parcels with New Town zoning, a classification created years ago by the county to accommodate the construction of Columbia.

Gateway Overlook also will include 66 townhouses, but it is unclear when plans for the residential element will go before the Planning Board.

Planning for the development began six years ago, when the property was owned by the Rouse Co., said Albert Edwards, vice president and director of engineering for General Growth, which acquired Rouse two years ago.

Although the county has not issued building permits, those are expected soon, he said.

Construction for the first phase of the retail component is expected to begin next month, Edwards said.

That will include stores of Lowe's Cos. Inc. the home-improvement chain, and Best Buy Co. Inc., the largest specialty retailer of consumer electronics.

Among the companies that have agreed to expand to Gateway Overlook are: Trader Joe's, the specialty market; Golf Galaxy; and several restaurants, including Houlihan's, Border Mexican Grill and Cantina and Mimi's Cafe.

The board approved the site development plan for construction of a one-story building for Costco, the world's largest membership retail company. It will include 119,527 square feet for retail, almost 3,000 square feet for offices and about 19,300 square feet for storage.

Costco gas station

The board also approved an amendment to permit a Costco gas station on adjacent property.

That would be available only to Costco card holders and would not include customary features such as car wash, auto repairs and convenience store.

It will have six pumps and operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., said attorney Richard B. Talkin, who was retained by the company.

Groundbreaking for Costco is expected by "late winter or early spring," Edwards said.

Gateway Overlook should "largely be completed by the end of 2008," he said.

The board also approved a site development plan for construction of an entrance sign and landscaping on the residential side of Maple Lawn, Maryland, along Johns Hopkins Road.

The features will mirror those in place along Route 216, where the commercial and retail components of the development are.

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