Long Reach Village Center Background

Developed in the late 1970’s, the Long Reach Village Center (LRVC) was once a hub for residents serving a variety of neighborhood needs. Various civic spaces were developed to support commercial uses and provide focal points for social interaction. With growth of newer

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commercial centers nearby, and changing market conditions, most of the LRVC experienced disinvestment and high vacancy rates. By 2014, the center faced decline due to increasing vacancies, poor maintenance and security issues. In response, Howard County passed legislation establishing the area as blighted and created a 19.1 acre Urban Renewal Area. As a result, the County purchased several properties, including the center, amounting to approximately 7.7 acres for redevelopment.

Throughout 2015, the County held five community meetings to engage the public in reimagining the LRVC. Over 150 people attended these meetings and provided input used to develop a 2016 Reimagine Long Reach Plan. In 2017, the County partnered with a private development firm to advance an Urban Renewal Project for the LRVC, which was approved by the County Council. Due to numerous acquisition and pre-development challenges, the development firm notified the County in June 2019 that they would no longer pursue redeveloping the LRVC.

After years of challenges, County Executive Calvin Ball is proud to announce a swift short-term renovation and long-term renewal. The goal of creating "A Vibrant Village Center For Today" will be met through a stabilization plan of maintenance, repair, beautification and placemaking. The work is already underway to generate renewed interest and excitement in the hub of Long Reach! 

Stabilization

The County's goal is to stabilize the village center through maintenance, repair, beautification and placemaking. As such the immediate (short-term) plan is three-fold.

Continued beautification of the exterior and shared areas. The following list of projects have either been completed or are in process for future completion:

  1. Power washing of building walls and soffits;
  2. Repair of trim and soffits; painting of steel columns;
  3. Restoration of all exterior lighting and painting and repair of light poles;
  4. Power washing sidewalks; painting of parking lot striping, curbs and steel bollards;
  5. Repair of storm drains;
  6. Cleaning of courtyard drains;
  7. Trimming of trees, bushes and weeds;
  8. Painting of wood panels below windows;
  9. Clean window exteriors at all storefronts;
  10. Replace canvas awnings;
  11. Secured an office for the security guard

Arts/Education/Economic Empowerment leasing strategy. The County plans to deploy a community-based leasing strategy by preparing the ground floor retail and office suites to house a combination of non-profit and for-profit users that offer services, or are mission focused, in the areas of arts, education, and economic empowerment.

Create and operate a commercial kitchen in a portion of the existsing retail space. There is well-documented need for commercial kitchen stations that can be rented to different types of food businesses (i.e. caterers, food manufacturers, food truck operators, bakers, etc.) on an as-needed basis. Existing space will be rehabilitated and improved to create a Long Reach Commercial Kitchen that offers prep stations for food businesses, classroom/educational space, and community meeting space.

Existing Conditions

The County-owned portion of Long Reach Village Center consists of the following:

  • 12,923 square feet of office space, which is currently 15% occupied
  • 36,741 square feet of ground floor retail space, which is currently 23% occupied
  • Approximately 53,000 square feet of vacant flex space that was currently used as a grocery store

Other properties located at the Village Center, not owned by the County, are: Columbia Association Arts Center, Stonehouse, a retail pad site, liquor store, gas station, and an interfaith center for religious use.

Planning History

2009 to Present

September 2017- June 2019- The LRVC Urban Renewal Project approved by the Council begins the zoning and land development review process, but is unsuccessful in completing the process due to challenges delivering the approved concept plan.

July 2017: CR98-2017 – The County Council approves a redevelopment concept plan as the urban renewal project for the LRVC July 7, 2017.

December 2016 - April 2017: Request for Proposals (RFP) – The County issued an RFP and selected a private development firm to redevelop the LRVC.

2016: Reimagine Long Reach Village Center Proposed Plan (Reimagine Plan) – The community-based plan documents the County’s objectives to revitalize the LRVC, potential land uses, and techniques the County may use to facilitate revitalization.

2015: Community Meetings – The County holds five community meetings throughout 2015 to engage the public in reimagining the LRVC. Over 300 people attend the series and guide development of the ReImagine Plan.

2014: County Acquisition – In October 2014 Howard County purchases a portion of the LRVC (excluding the former Safeway building). In February 2015 the County purchases the Safeway building resulting in county ownership of 7.71 acres in the LRVC urban renewal area.

2014: Council Resolution 22-2014 – Facing decline of the shopping center, and given concerns about vacancies, poor maintenance, security and impact on neighboring property values, members of the community request County intervention. On March 5, 2014, the County Council passes legislation finding that certain properties of the LRVC constituted a blighted area and finds that the rehabilitation or redevelopment of these properties is necessary in the public's interest. The legislation defines the boundaries of the 19.1-acre urban renewal area, authorizes acquisition of certain properties in the LRVC, and authorizes preparation of plans for redevelopment.

2012: Long Reach Village Center Community Plan (VCCP) - The Long Reach Community Association, aided by a panel of citizen volunteers, creates a Village Center Master Plan that was approved by the Community and filed with the Department of Planning and Zoning in 2012.

2009: Council Bill 29-2009 – CB 29-2009 outlines a process for Village Center redevelopment and creates the opportunity for Village Boards to create and file master plans.

Staff Contact

Amy Gowan, Deputy Director

 agowan@howardcountymd.gov

410-313-2350


Resources