Wednesday, March 11, 2009

b'ville town square comes back fighting

Artist's rendering of the Burtonsville Town Square shopping center.

Tomorrow, the Planning Board will record plats for Burtonsville Town Square, the redevelopment of a forty-year-old strip mall that frustrated many East County residents and threatened the Dutch Country Farmers Market, a local institution. It's one of the final steps that developer Chris Jones needs to break ground on the project, which was supposed to start construction last summer.

Jones had appeared to turn away from his original proposal for the Town Square - which would have included a quarter-million square feet of retail and office space, something resembling a grid of streets, and an actual plaza - in favor of a smaller, more conventional design. What the Planning Board will see, however, is the more "town-like" Town Square he proffered five years ago. The plans on file (warning! PDF file.) at their website are dated 2004.

The original proposal for Burtonsville Town Square.

I'm not sure if this is a mistake by the Planning Board or Jones has really gone back, which would be a risky proposition given the community opposition it faced and, of course, the difficulty of leasing 250,000 square feet of retail in this economy. I feel that the original proposal would have been a much better solution for Burtonsville, providing the town with a central gathering space while giving East County residents the kind of retail options they'd otherwise have to drive to Rockville or Columbia for.

1 comment:

Thomas Hardman said...

Astute readers of this blog will recall my proposals to straighten out the curve in MD-198, and turn the current strip west of US-29 into a sort of "old town Burtonsville" allowing the present businesses to flourish in a much more walkable and less-heavily trafficked area while diverting current traffic to a new "Burtonsville Bypass" which would be flat, straight, and two lanes plus turn pullouts in both directions, west of town.

Placing these buildings sets in stone that Burtonsville will remain a traffic nightmare that is inherently unwalkable anyplace other than in the parking lots of businesses.

Following any plan other than the one of which I have repeatedly laid out the essential basics, inherently dooms Burtonsville at MD-198 and US-29 to being someplace you fight to get past, rather than someplace people will enjoy to go.