'Sustainable' mixed-use project set to break ground in Clarksville

The owners of Victoria Gastro Pub have revealed plans for a new restaurant in Clarksville

The owners of Columbia's Victoria Gastropub plan to open a new restaurant at Clarksville Commons, a sustainability-themed, mixed-use development that is scheduled to break ground on Wednesday.

The project will be called FoodPlenty and will focus on comfort food, according to Victoria Restaurant Group Proprietor Randy Marriner. He said the restaurant's tagline will be "Serving Comfort Food Daily."

"We'll never use the term 'farm-to-table' because it's a throw-away today, but we'll try to be as locally sourced as we possibly can," Marriner said. "We want to take advantage of the fact that we've got a farm" about 7 miles away in Ellicott City.

FoodPlenty is expected to create 100 new jobs, he added.

The 8,000-square-foot restaurant will be joined by 40,000 square feet of retail and office space on the site of the former Gateway School along Route 108 in Clarksville. Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and other local officials are scheduled to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the development on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Clarksville Commons, which is being developed by GreenStone Ventures II, LLC, has long been in the works. The county first put the Gateway property on the market in 2009; GreenStone Ventures was chosen as the developer in 2010, but a first deal fell through. In 2012, GreenStone signed a new agreement to purchase the property from the county for $5 million and develop it in two phases.

The first phase of Clarksville Commons, which will occupy a little more than half of the site, is expected to be completed by spring 2017, according to George Stone, principal at GreenStone Ventures.

Stone said he did not have an estimate for when phase II, which would require a second access point to the property, would begin.

"We're not in a big hurry to go forward with that," he said. "We want to do a good job with what we've set out to accomplish right now."

Earlier efforts to identify another entrance for the development stalled after GreenStone balked at a $1.3 million easement price for an access road through the property of Kendall Hardware next door. Stone said he is currently "working closely with the adjacent property owners" to find a solution. The first phase of Clarksville Commons will feature environmentally sustainable architectural design, including photovoltaic panels, a living green roof, cisterns to capture rain water and stormwater runoff mitigation through rain gardens and porous surfaces.

The restaurant and retail area, both located in two-story buildings, will be centered on a courtyard that will host farmers markets, art shows, concerts and a mix of indoor and outdoor retail, according to a GreenStone press release.

Marriner said he plans to build an outdoor dining area for FoodPlenty in a greenhouse attached to the restaurant.

The groundbreaking comes as the county prepares to present final drafts in an effort to redesign Route 108 as a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly corridor.

Stone said Clarksville Commons architects have been closely following the county's plans.

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