Kimco's indifference, illogic hampered center's recovery

Letter to the editor

November 04, 2011

The letter from Edith M.Cord about the Wilde Lake Village Center requires a response.

Kimco has owned the property for over a decade during which it became increasingly obvious the Giant store would leave. The reasons for its departure are many and not because Wilde Lake residents weren't loyal customers until the end.

Proactive entrepreneurship would have had Kimco working with residents, the village board and the WLBusiness Trust, a limited liability corporation, to minimize the effects of the loss of a grocer.

The efforts by County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, working with Kimco to place 500 affordable housing units in the center while at the same time making no effort to maintain a food-supply source, received a rational response from the community, forcing Kimco's reconsideration.

An effort was also made to widen the village center to include commercial property along Little Patuxent Parkway. This, would of course, have affected the formula for residential development.

These misguided initiatives seriously slowed the process.

The Wilde Lake Village Board, on which I served for several years, surveyed Wilde Lake residents and acted on results that a need for basic food services was essential and should be affordable and walkable, and recognized that the hundreds of apartments and condos surrounding the center depended on its convenience.

Ms.Cord is correct about walkability, if one is healthy, weather is cooperating and time is not important. Usually, one does not walk to the hospital. Nor do I see a reference to the oft-quoted pronouncement that the Safeway in Harper's Choice is within walkable distance for Wilde Lake residents, an assumption which facilely ignores the reality of grocery shopping.

The Wilde Lake Village Board recognized several years ago that a large supermarket chain would not come in, that Kimco had no interest in small versions of major chains (21st century thinking at work since they exist). It seems counterintuitive to build 220 rental apartments in a small locality and disdain the notion of small basic grocer as unneeded.

There have been some unsung heroes in the effort to redevelop the Wilde Lake Village Center with a balance reflecting community values and commercial profit requirements. Bob Tannenbaum, Nick Mangraviti, Jervis Dorton and Cy Paumier, all professional architects with international credentials, gave free consultation and help to the WLVB with just that in mind, and the experience of so doing.

Kimco's center design looks like Dorsey Search Village Center version 2, reflecting strip-mall architect design, not the expertise of local professionals.

What matters now is that the existing merchants who have managed somehow to survive Kimco indifference, mismanagement and arrogance get the center redone soon.

Mary Pivar

Wilde Lake

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