The nasty weather today was good for Barnes & Noble in Ellicott City. I dropped in around four this afternoon, between games, to grab a map of Northern Virginia. The place was packed. After an unsuccessful search in the map section I worked my away around to the café. A hot cup of fresh coffee was very much on my to do list.
The line was too much for this old dog and, coupled with the fact that I still needed to find the map, I booked. I exited the store and considered my next move. I was parked about 20 feet way. I could also see the Staples store across the sea of surface parking. It really wasn’t that much of a walk even on a nasty day.
Better yet. Next to the Staples store is a Safeway, with a Starbucks. I set off on foot.
I should note here that I was walking across a Kimco shopping center. From the looks of things I’d have to say it’s a pretty successful Kimco shopping center. There is one major vacancy from a shuttered Linens and Things but otherwise it’s full. What it isn’t is pedestrian friendly. The walk from the Barnes & Noble to Safeway is all street and no sidewalk. There isn’t even a crosswalk linking the standalone book shop to the rest of the shopping center.
Granted, Kimco didn’t develop Long Gate Shopping Center. Still, they’ve owned it for over six years so you’d think they might have noticed the lack of connectivity by now. Apparrently not.
That’s a little disconcerting considering that these are the same folks who will be laying out a plan for redeveloping Columbia’s iconic Wilde Lake Village Green. Sure, these are different properties; Long Gate is four times larger than Wilde Lake and nobody is proposing putting residential units in Long Gate…yet.
Not all developers are equal. There are varying levels of competencies and areas of expertise. I’m starting to question whether Kimco really gets it in Columbia. In this article by Larry Carson in The Sun today, Kimcos project director, Geoff Glazer actually blamed the proposed Town Center redevelopment program for his lack of success at Wilde Lake
"The downtown is clearly my competition. I've got to clearly separate myself from what downtown is," to entice merchants, Glazer told about 200 residents at a meeting Monday night at Slayton House. "
You think it might be a better idea to embrace the Town Center plan and think how you might best capitalize on that instead?
For everyone’s sake I hope they figure it out. If they don’t, it will take a lot longer than two years before anything significant occurs at Wilde Lake.
And by the way, I noticed today that the wifi at Barnes & Noble is now free. Wasn’t always so. Nicely done.