Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Green Hotel for Clarksville

I received a phone call this morning from a commercial real estate colleague, Jim Farrell. Jim had called to discuss some site options for one of our clients, but first we discussed what was going on with the former Gateway School on Route 108 in Clarksville. Although Jim works in Tysons Corner, he actually lives in Clarksville.

He told me his neighbors had been asking him what was going on with former junior high school. They figured that since he works in commercial real estate he should know these things. The fact of the matter is that he knows more about what is going on with Northern Virginia commercial real estate than what is happening his own backyard. That is often the case with those who commute in and out of Howard County everyday.

Truth be told, I only knew what was going on because of this story by Larry Carson in The Sun last week. Previously I had posted about the six development teams that were competing for the right to develop the county owned property. It now appears that a local couple, George and Holly Stone, have come out on top of that process.

“George Stone's desire in building what he calls Clarksville Commons, he said in a statement, is to create a "mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, sustainable, signature destination for Clarksville and the region," using the latest in green technology and people-friendly public spaces to produce a sense of community absent in the cluttered commercial crossroads.”

The Stones have also assembled a development team that includes other familiar local names like Joe Rutter with Land Design and Development and Jared Spahn with Old Town Construction.

The planned development will also include a green “boutique hotel.”

I would have never guessed that there was a pent up demand for hotel rooms in Clarksville.


Bob O said...

Clarksville. Columbia. Name me two more different areas, demographically.


Bob O said...

Green technology is easy, if you have money and low population density. Columbia has neither, and no money to really invest in "green" tech. People in Clarksville can afford the investment.

Fortunately, I have a plan. But it will involve the state government giving up its Quixotic pursuit of slots to save the horse racing industry.

My plan: Do away with slots. Convert all of the current horse racing tracks into solar power plants. Horse racing is dead as a spectator sport, anyway, and there's a lot of open land there. Maryland is not great for photovoltaic energy production, but it's okay.

Cover the current horse tracks in solar cells, rent out the area below them for parking. The horses can run in the dark beneath the solar cells. You'd make more money than the horse industry does, generate power. Horse racing is a dead industry despite slots. Let's make the most of it.

Seriously, half a brain in Annapolis?

Bob O said...

Green hotel? Why would I leave my three acre farmlet to go there?

Hmmmm.... You got me going.

Jim said...

And boy do I love going to Tysons Corner, the mother of all walkable, pedestrian-friendly environments. Good thing I only have to get there a few days a week.

I've lived in Clarksville for 10 years--in Howard County for close to 20--and I'm happy that someone with local roots was chosen to develop this very valuable site. At the beginning of the process, the Kendalls were invited to be part of the development. Sounds like that probably won't happen. However, a hotel use sounds "interesting", to say the least. Where will the demand come from, without more broadly-based amenities (McD's, Ruby Tuesday)???

Trevor said...

Bob, you said Clarksville and Columbia are different demographically. You couldn't be more inaccurate with that statement. A large portion of River Hill has a Clarksville mailing address, and a large portion of Clarksville's residents pay the CPRA, vote in Village Board elections and are "Columbians." The Gateway School site is directly across the street from the River Hill Village Center, and walking distance from thousands of Columbians. People forget River Hill, but it is just as much Columbia as Wilde Lake, Long Reach, Dorsey Search or Kings' Contrivance.

Now do we have the money to invest in "green" tech? That is an interesting question. I will tell you that the River Hill Village Board is starting to look at forming a master-plan for the 108 corridor, which may or may not involve "green" planning. The board is waiting to hear what comes of the Gateway School site just like everyone else. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Bob O said...

Trevor, thanks for the informative correction. I appreciate it. You seem to know what you're talking about, so a couple of quick questions.

1. Was Clarksville part of Rouse's original plan for Columbia?
2. Do you think Howard County should offer property tax reduction incentives for homeowners who install "green" technologies in their homes?

These aren't leading questions. I'm actually interested in knowing the answers. Thanks. And thanks for using a real name...I'm getting a bit leery of that guy named "Anonymous."

Anonymous said...

Well, I dont know about a hotel. Like others have said, how many people are really going to stay in River Hill? A few nice (non chain) resturants would be a great start. But for god sakes, whatever gets done NO MORE BANKS !!! First, who actually walks into a bank anymore anyway? Its all electronic, no need for a physical bank. Besides we have what 6 or 7 within 5 minutes walking distance?

How about something interesting like a bakery or a trader joes type place? Something to bring a little variety and competition to the river hill area would be a refresing chage instead of another clone of every other village center and strip mall in columbia or maryland???