Cranes are again visible over the Odenton Town Center — but, finally, the development is in the central area known as the Core.
So, after years of delay while the sewer and water systems were upgraded by Anne Arundel County, Novus Apartments and Broadstone West 32 are underway, with 175 and 212 apartment units, respectively, to be delivered in 2015. This supplements the 371 apartments completed this year at Academy Yard and the last of 124 townhomes constructed at Town Center Commons.
On the commercial front, retailers are beginning to open in The Village at Odenton Station, with Baltimore Coffee and Tea and A Better You Medi Spa open for business. The Chesapeake Innovation Center, the county’s tech incubator, also recently relocated to Odenton and is collocated with executive office suites and a education and training room, available for rent, at the Fort Meade Corporate Center.
However, despite the progress, much remains to be done if the Odenton Town Center is to be successful. A number of initiatives are underway that will have a significant impact on development, but as they are spread across departments and disciplines, it will require a concerted effort on the part of the Schuh administration to keep them on track. A strong lead to coordinate those initiatives will be key to their success.
Among the initiatives that require attention are the following.
- Revision and passage of the Odenton Town Center Master Plan, with appropriate attention to the voices of all stakeholders, not just a vocal minority;
- Identification of projects for inclusion for funding under the recently-passed Odenton Town Center Development District and passage of the bond bill to support their construction;
- Finalization of plans for the Odenton transit-oriented development, a partnership among the state, county and private interests;
- Planning for public amenities such as open space, transit linkages and pedestrian connectivity, which all rightfully should be included in the Odenton Town Center Master Plan;
- Design and construction of the road grid in the Town Center Core to support planned development;
- Construction of Town Center Boulevard in accordance with the terms of the Developer Rights and Responsibilities Agreement, delayed because of modifications to the design requiring resubmittal and approval; and
- Rebranding of Odenton to better reflect the assets and opportunities available here.
In addition to these county-initiated efforts, there are a number of development projects underway that need to move forward in an expeditious manner. The complicated nature of the Odenton Town Center Master Plan, and its inherent conflicts with other county requirements, has led to every proposed project requiring time-consuming modification approvals from the Planning and Zoning Officer, even for items as simple as sign replacements.
Time is money in the business world, and efforts to move these projects through in a more timely fashion are critical.
Odenton’s future impacts more than just the local area. As a tax-capped county, the only way to increase tax revenues in Anne Arundel County is through growth, and Odenton offers the best opportunity to accomplish that goal due to its proximity to Fort Meade and its central position relative to road and rail connections.
It behooves Anne Arundel County to expedite development so it can reap those benefits. Odenton’s time is now.
Claire Louder is the president and CEO of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce. She can be contacted at 410-672-3422 and [email protected].