A developer has been brought in to build two residential buildings with at least 230 apartments, negotiations are under way to lease out a new pharmacy and both projects could be part of a reinvigorated Wilde Lake Village Center that could see ground being broken by early 2013.
That's what officials with Kimco Realty Corp., which owns the village center, said Monday at a meeting with the Wilde Lake Village Board. Though their presentation was largely about the apartment buildings, talk did turn to the center itself, which opened in 1967 but has become increasingly vacant after the Giant Food grocery store there shuttered in 2006.
"Things are falling in place after many years," said Geoff Glazer, a vice president at Kimco.
The apartments, all of which would be rented at market rate and would not be subsidized, will be developed and managed by Wood Partners, a national company whose local projects include the Alta at Regency Crest apartment complex on Rogers Avenue in Ellicott City.
Plans for the five-story buildings proposed for Wilde Lake no longer would have parking solely on the ground floor and residences above. Rather, the parking garage would be included within one building, which largely would wrap around the garage.
Only one side of the garage would be exposed to the outside, though that side would be screened to make it look like more apartment units are there, according to Glazer and Scott Zimmerly, a director with Wood Partners. An enclosed bridge would connect the two buildings at its upper levels. About 6,000 square feet of retail would be at the corner of one building.
How the building looks is crucial, Zimmerly said.
"We knew the concern was not to have some big mass that didn't fit in. It's not just going to be flat and institutional. … It's very important that we get it right," he said.
Village board member Regina Clay said she was pleased with what she heard from Zimmerly and Wood Partners.
"I think they totally get our community," she said after the meeting. "I think that they took into account what we're trying to accomplish — a sense of community, a sense of a village coming together and socializing."
Kimco wants to tear down the former grocery store building and one adjacent building, and construct several new buildings, including the apartments, a bank, a drug store and a small food store with offices above it. The project also includes renovating the two remaining retail and office buildings.
Glazer said his company is negotiating with a specific tenant for the drug store but declined to name the company.
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Residents have until Jan. 17 to review renderings of the project, which have been posted on the Wilde Lake website and in Slayton House. Their comments will be added to the public record.
Clay said she hoped community members other than those who regularly speak at meetings would make their opinions heard.
Other elements of Kimco's proposed project, including construction in other parts of the village center, were approved by the village community association in May.
The company has a year from Monday's presentation to submit its application for the apartment buildings. The village's architectural advisory panel will then make a recommendation to an architectural liaison, who will decide whether to approve the buildings.
Glazer said he was hoping for Kimco to have completed the local and county approval process by the end of 2012. Groundbreaking could then be done in March 2013.
"The county has said they will work with us very diligently to get there," he said.
The first apartments could be ready to rent by late 2014 and would likely fill quickly, Zimmerly said.