Walk around many of our older village centers and you see leasing signs like the one pictured above in the Owen Brown Village Center. This space has been unoccupied for a few years and it doesn't seem to be a viable location for a business needing this sized space. Even the movement to have the Long Reach Village Center labeled "distressed" shows how the village center concept is being reworked.
Tomorrow night, Tuesday March 25th from 7-9 p.m., the second public meeting of the “Columbia Market Analysis and Economic Development Services” study will be held at Slayton House (10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, MD, 21044). The consultants will discuss some of the initial market findings they've uncovered for the village centers and GE-Dobbin Road-Snowden River Parkway corridors. As explained in a press release from CA:
"This study is a collaborative effort between Columbia Association (CA), Howard County Economic Development Authority and Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning. Thestudy will evaluate current and projected demand for development in Columbia’s village centers, as well as an interrelated analysis of the Dobbin Road/Snowden River Parkway/former General Electric manufacturing area."
"The study began in late October 2013 and is anticipated to be completed by April 30, 2014. This study is part of a continued focus on Columbia’s village centers. In 2009, the Howard County Council adopted new regulations to promote revitalization of Columbia’s village centers. During the development of the Howard County General PlanHoward, CA worked with the county to include a recommendation in the plan for a village center market study."
Our own Columbia Mall seems to be weathering the changing retail scene better than other malls in our area such as the Laurel Mall and the Owings Mills Mall. But even at our Mall the picture above shows how some of the new realities are impacting the Mall.
It is hard to underestimate the impact of online shopping on retail shopping. Why go to a local store when the internet has opened up the world for merchandise? It is becoming common that you go to a retail store to see a product and then use your smartphone to see what the price is online and then order it from the online merchant. Retail merchants only become merchandise showrooms.