Town Center resident Helen Ruther asked questions about what would happen to the part of the parking lot that would be needed to make the direct pedestrian connection to the Warfield neighborhood that's depicted in the Master Plan for downtown Columbia development.
GGP officials did not directly answer the question, saying the parking lot in front of the plaza would not be touched as a part of this project. The amenity space required by the Master Plan, GGP added, does not have to be developed until 50 percent of the neighborhood perimeter has been developed.
Ruther and Columbia resident Ursula Kondo both raised concerns about handicapped parking. The handicapped spots in front of the L.L. Bean are "always taken," Kondo said.
Whitcome said additional handicapped spaces will be designated on the southeast end of the Oak Garage (often referred to as the Nordstrom parking deck), where a new stairway and elevator will be built. The exit from the elevator and stairway will lead to a 23-foot wide walkway between the two buildings on the left side of the plaza.
Regarding the overall parking complaints, Whitcome said: "Everybody would like us to, and we would like to, design (parking) for Black Friday ... but that's difficult to do."
County parking requirements vary by uses, so exact parking requirements won't be specified until GGP selects the mix of restaurants and retail it plans to use in the new space. However, with the mix that's envisioned, Whitcome said GGP already has more than enough parking spaces to meet the requirements.
In addition to the concerns, the residents also offered some positive feedback on the plan.
"I really like your design," Kondo said. "I'm very pleased to see this, and I hope this will all work out."
GGP is scheduled to present its site development plan to the county's Design Advisory Panel for comments on Aug. 8, at 7:30 p.m., at the George Howard Building, in Ellicott City. The plan will then go to the county Department of Planning and Zoning, and eventually to the Planning Board for final approval, which GGP officials said they are hoping to have by the end of the year.
If that happens, GGP said construction would likely begin in January 2013 with the space available for tenants to start moving in around August 2013.