Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment

Hickory Ridge Village Center MarquisKimco Realty, owner of six of the nine Columbia Village Centers, is proposing to redevelop the Hickory Ridge Village Center.  Here are the facts, to help the community reach an informed opinion.


According to Kimco’s presentation at the December 7, 2015 Village Board meeting, while the center is commercially viable, they want to be proactive about retaining its anchor grocery store rather than reactive, as was the case with Wilde Lake Village Center. They believe they can keep Giant by shifting the parking so that it faces the front of Giant. This requires they relocate the stores on the North side of “The Avenue” pedestrian promenade, opposite the Giant, which will also improve visibility for those merchants. Construction can be implemented in phases so that no existing store will have to close for a length of time. The approximately $20-$25 million redevelopment is cost effective if they can increase the Center’s customer base by adding a proposed 300 market-rate rental apartments and parking, in a five-story structure, for a total construction cost of around $75 million. (¶ edited)

The Avenue pedestrian promenade
The Avenue pedestrian promenade, Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)
West Side of Giant Food, Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)

The Kimco proposal attempts to address concerns raised by the Columbia Market Analysis, “an economic analysis of current conditions, future potential opportunities and recommendations for Columbia’s village centers that was commissioned by the Columbia Association. Any redevelopment must conform to the definition of Village Center in the Howard County Zoning Regulations, follow the Major Village Center Redevelopment Process leading to approval by the Planning Board, and consider the Village Center Community Plan. There will be substantial opportunity for community input, and Kimco is currently scheduling small group meetings with a maximum 10 residents each throughout the month of April. Contact awenzl@kimcorealty.com to sign up. (The Professor)


Kimco Proposal
Kimco’s initial concept for the Hickory Ridge Village Center redesign
Hickory Ridge Village
Existing Site Plan, Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)
Site Information and Demographics
KIMCO Marketing Brochure: site information and demographics

DEFINITION: Village Center, New Town (Section 103.0, Howard County Zoning Regulations)

A Mixed-Use Development in the New Town District which is in a location designated on the New Town Preliminary Development Plan as a “Village Center”, which is designed to be a community focal point and gathering place for the surrounding village neighborhoods by including the following items:

  • An outdoor, public, village green, plaza or square, which has both hardscape and softscape elements. This public space shall be designed to function as an accessible, primarily pedestrian-oriented promenade connecting the various village center buildings and shall include public seating features;
  • Stores, shops, offices or other commercial uses which provide opportunities to fulfill the day-to-day needs of the village residents, such as food stores, specialty stores, service agencies, financial institutions, personal services, medical services, and restaurants;
  • Space for community uses and/or institutional uses; and
  • Residential uses, to the extent appropriate to support and enhance, but not overwhelm, other uses in the village center.


Hickory Ridge Village Center Community Plan, developed in 2012 by Hickory Ridge Village Association (http://bit.ly/HRVCCP)

Hickory Ridge defines its Village Center” as including the near environs, outlined in black dashes and shaded by land use on this map.  The Plan outlines a series of recommendations pertaining to land use for the Village Center including residential, commercial, institutional, and open space. The  existing commercial area, referred to as the “retail core”, is red-shaded Area A. The Columbia Association-owned land adjoining the retail core is green-shaded Area C.

Village Center Land Use Map
Land Use Map of Hickory Ridge Village Center
Kimco Realty
Aerial view of Hickory Ridge Village Center

The Community Plan’s Overall Recommendations for the Village Center

  1. To protect and enhance the viability of the current Village Center retail core, all retail uses should be contained in the retail core, Area A.
  2. All development must recognize that the retail core is at the center of the village and make an evaluation and presentation as to how the proposed project enhances the retail core. No project should compete with the center retail or draw activity away from it.
  3. Building setbacks along Cedar Lane may be minimal so that buildings can front and frame this minor arterial road.
  4. Additional, highly legible signage along Cedar Lane that identifies the Village Center retail core is desired. To accomplish this, both Howard County sign code and architectural covenants placed on the property by the original developer may need to be modified.
  5. Maximum building height should be limited to three stories (36 feet).
  6. Freestanding commercial communication towers are not desired and should not be permitted within the boundary of the Village Center.

Retail Core Recommendation (Area A)

Area A is the designated retail core. . . .  Office uses in this area would be acceptable as well as some limited residential uses. It is recommended that residential uses only be permitted as a secondary use to the retail and designed as part of a mixed use development with the retail as the primary use. It is also recommended that no single family residential (attached or detached) be developed in the area. Proposed retail pad sites developed at the perimeter of this retail core may take away the cohesive cluster of retail activity of the retail core and should be discouraged. Development of this area should always consider the shared parking arrangement anticipated with the development of Area C. Development in this area should also include enhancements to the pedestrian network to provide improved connectivity to and from uses around this area.

Open Space Recommendation (Area C)

Area C is the three-acre open space parcel owned by the Columbia Association. The parcel was graded and provided with storm water management and intended to be developed with a community use when the original commercial area was constructed. The village office and community space were developed at The Hawthorn Center prior to the development of the shopping center. The parcel was intended to have a shared parking arrangement with the rest of the shopping center. The criteria set up for this parcel in FDP Phase 205-A-2 PART 1 is still appropriate. Also, when considering uses for this area, deference should be given to the adjacent neighbors who may be affected by noise and light disturbance by a change in use for this undeveloped parcel. Any use of the parcel should be for public/community purposes in line with the original intention of the FDP recorded for this site. Possible uses could include a community building, athletic facility, museum, splash park, dog park, playfield, or outdoor exercise facility.

Hickory Ridge Park
Approved plan for Columbia Association development on Parcel C, now on hold

Columbia Market Study, Columbia Association, November 2014

Selected Overall Recommendations

  • The village centers will need to evolve to better respond to the competitive context for retail, need for housing sites and specialty offices and better public spaces if they are to thrive.
  • The original design concepts used for the village centers decades ago have been largely superseded by new planning and design principles. For the most part, the layouts that exist, even in the newer and more successful village centers would not be developed in the same way today. Contemporary standards would place the centers and retail closer to roadways in more visible locations and have the centers more connected and pedestrian-friendly.
  • The market analysis findings suggest that supply and demand for community serving professional office space and for retail are both connected to the number of residents in the immediate area. Without more residential density near village centers, market-based growth in the commercial sectors will not continue.
  • An opportunity for constructive public-private agreements that will encourage redevelopment would be for Columbia Association or other property owners to consider negotiating ‘land swaps’ with developers in village centers in which CA facilities or lands might be ‘traded’ or relocated by developers if the result would improve general site layout, circulation and sight lines and efficient functioning of public and private properties within a village center.

Selected Hickory Ridge Assessment & Recommendations

  • While the internal orientation of the Giant Food & Pharmacy store along the pedestrian walkway is somewhat unconventional (the entrance might normally be expected to open directly onto the parking lot in front), consumers are drawn into the central walkway, creating exposure and customer traffic for other Hickory Ridge stores and restaurants because of Giant’s “internal” entry location. . . .  The rear parking area on the Quarterstaff Road side of the site lacks visibility, especially behind the Giant supermarket.
  • The potential to create new housing in the village centers has been shaped by multiple factors. There is underutilized land in many village centers currently used for surface parking. Future village center redevelopment can accommodate unmet demand or development of specialized housing categories within village centers.
  • Based on the existing retail mix and consumer market profile, the following are suggested additions to the Hickory Ridge Village Center:
    • An upscale hair salon for women
    • A coffee shop
    • A yoga studio and a yoga apparel store
    • If more space can be added, one or two additional table service restaurants (Argentinian steak house, tapas restaurant, deli)
    • Provide outdoor dining areas for as many Hickory Ridge food and beverage locations as possible (both existing and new)
    • If new retail space is added, consider expanding retail and food service offerings at the rear of the “avenue” to strengthen the destinational ‘pull’ at the rear of the village center.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:  Hickory Ridge Village Association

If you have questions about the redevelopment process, Kimco’s initial proposal, or how to have an impact on this project, please feel free to call the village office and speak to Jessamine Duvall, Village Manager, or Joan Lancos, Land Use Liaison. We also encourage you to read the materials on our Village Center Redevelopment page. We have provided background information that will help residents understand the County’s redevelopment process, which allows many opportunities for community input and requires the developer to consider the community’s opinions.

Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment



Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

2 thoughts on “Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment”

  1. Great overview of what is happening in our village, I have mixed emotions, on one hand I like that we are involved with the planning of possible upgrades to our village center. But it’s being done without a plan for the whole of our planned community. Those who bought into the planned community did so thinking the whole of Columbia would stay a planned community. The DPZ delay in addressing New Town Zoning has put that at risk. When we bought into the planned community concept we gave some freedom but in return we knew what to expect. A business owner and a home owner relies on enforcement of all the aspects that make us a planned community.. The entities who fail to up hold this leave themselves wide open for legal actions. It’s going to be an interesting 50th anniversary for who choose to mess with our planned community!


  2. Proposed retail pad sites developed at the perimeter of this retail core may take away the cohesive cluster of retail activity of the retail core and should be discouraged.

    Look at where they want to shove some of the retail. Not to plan.

    Look at where “the avenue” is relative to all the parking. Off to the side. Hidden. Very much like the Long Reach village center which is for all intents and purposes dead. Having no flow from parking to the anchor through the stores kills them. This plan looks like a way to add housing and not a way to improve the village center.


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