Sherrie Becker recalled how she came to live at Quarry Lake, the residential, retail, office complex in Pikesville.

Becker bought a home there in 2007, picking out a lot in the single-family residential area before any of the houses had even been built.

Becker, the former executive director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, and her husband, parents of four children, were downsizing from a large house in rural Baltimore County.

"We wanted something smaller and newer," she said, "and we love looking at the lake."

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It's a typical Quarry Lake story.

After nearly a dozen years since its inception, the Quarry Lake mixed-use complex has emerged as an example of how the community, the county and the developer can come together to make a high-density project work.

Quarry Lake dates to 1999, when covenants with the neighbors required then-owner Arundel Corp. to cease operation at the 258-acre Greenspring Quarry.

The quarry had been in use since the 1870s, but Smith-Greenspring, the Pikesville neighborhood where it is located, had long since become a suburban community.

In 1980, when Arundel Corp. sought to change the zoning to develop the property, the neighbors objected. Only when Arundel Corp. agreed to a final closing date of Dec. 31, 1999, for the quarry did they relent and agree to a plan for future residential and commercial development.

'Mountain of dirt'

Quarry Lake is a mixed-use development that combines residential and commercial.

Currently, it has 380 housing units with about 550 residents, 90,000-square feet of retail and 250,000 square feet of office space.

Construction is not finished. A total of 573 additional residential units will be built, with an estimated two to three years to completion. Aside from two still-empty restaurant "pads" of 7,000-square feet each, there is no more room for additional retail or office space.

Before the quarry's official 1999 end of operations, Arundel Corp. hired Steven Koren, of the Columbia-based Koren Development Co., to develop the site. When Florida Rock Industries bought the property from Arundel Corp., they retained Koren as the master contractor.

But before the first house, store or office building could go up, Koren faced the challenge of land reclamation — making the ground stable and usable.

"A mountain of dirt and slag had to be removed. Streams had to be diverted," said Neville Jacobs, president of the Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition.

Jacobs spent long hours with Koren, county planners and then-District 2 County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, now County Executive, as the project progressed.

"But if it hadn't succeeded," he said, "it would have dragged Pikesville down."

Constraints and concerns

Koren had to devise a development plan that met the covenants restricting the commercial portion.