Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kimco Seeks to End GGP’s Role as Columbia Gatekeeper

Kimco, the owner of Wilde Lake Village Shopping Center, has submitted a petition to amend the New Town Zoning in Columbia (ZRA-102). Kimco is seeking to end the “gatekeeper” role of Columbia’s developer in approving any redevelopment plans for the village centers. As it now stands, Kimco must first get General Growths approval for their redevelopment plans before they can submit them to the county. In their petition, Kimco claims that the “existing regulations do not permit the redevelopment of the Village Centers to respond to changing market conditions. As a result of the current regulations, the Village Centers can not be redeveloped and reinvestment is therefore discouraged.”

That’s a bit of a stretch.

Back in March, when Ken Ulman announced his legislative initiative to support this type of change in Columbia I was generally supportive of the notion.

I’ve since changed my mind. The more I studied Kimco’s plans for Wilde Lake and their track record with the eight village centers they acquired from The Rouse Company, the more convinced I am that they are somewhat lacking in the whole Columbia vision thing. Once they gained control of the eight centers, they sold off Oakland Mills and Long Reach and kept Hickory Ridge, River Hill, Dorsey’s Search, Harpers Choice, Kings Contrivance and Wilde Lake. While I generally applaud their efforts to reinvest in Wilde Lake, I have now come around to conclude that their plans for 500 apartment units in that center are a little out of whack with the village center concept, even an evolved village center concept.

GGP on the other hand, has a pretty strong interest in maintaining the Columbia franchise. In addition to Town Center they also have significant land holdings in Columbia Gateway. It is in GGP’s best interest to see that the Columbia “brand” stays strong and that means relatively healthy village centers. I suspect that GGP has been a little disappointed in Kimco’s stewardship of the village centers so far so it is no surprise that Kimco would prefer to have them removed from the approval process.

I think I’d rather see a private developer who has “skin in the game” in the role of gatekeeper for the Columbia concept than to leave that function entirely in the hands of local government.


Tom said...


After you review this report who do you think the gatekeeper should be?

wordbones said...


Even if GGP sells off the Columbia holdings, any new buyer would presumably have the same stake in maintaining the Columbia "brand."

These are difficult times for financing of commercial real estate. GGP is asset rich in malls but that is not where the future growth of the company lies. I suspect that they will look to raise cash by selling off a few malls before they would consider spinning off the Columbia properties. Besides, an operating property with an income stream is more likely to attract investors than raw land.


Anonymous said...

Marshmallow Man here, skipping merrily over from 53 Beers to offer this:

how's this for an idea for a new gatekeeper: the people of Columbia? Of course this would require the incorporation of Columbia and a municipal government... or would it? Could this not be done under the auspices of local government, under a sort of "sub zoning board" charged solely with zoning matters within the confines of CA assessed property.

Maybe a crazy thought-- maybe just crazy enough to be effective.