BOWIE – Bowie residents hope to make their mark on the new Bowie Marketplace. Several residents attended the March 7 city council meeting to express their concerns about the residential portion of the new mixed-use development proposed by Berman Enterprises and to hear the company’s briefing on the project. The council meeting was held the […]
BOWIE – Bowie residents hope to make their mark on the new Bowie Marketplace.
Several residents attended the March 7 city council meeting to express their concerns about the residential portion of the new mixed-use development proposed by Berman Enterprises and to hear the company’s briefing on the project.
The council meeting was held the evening before a planned stakeholders’ meeting set up by the developer to inform the community of their plans and get additional feedback. Brian Berman, partner at Berman Enterprises, speaking to the council as well as to the gathered residents, said the company would discuss more specific details of the plan for the site, located on Annapolis Road near Stonybrook Lane and Superior Lane, at that meeting.
In the meantime, he did reveal the company has scaled back its plans somewhat. Instead of 350 residential units and two garages, they are now planning only 300 units with a single garage and additional landscaping (including, potentially, mature trees). The commitment to reserve at least 20 percent of the units for seniors remains, he said, as does the five-story height for the building.
“We took some time to dig real deep into what really could be done in the back there, trying as best we could, of course, to respect all the concerns that were raised tonight and will undoubtedly be raised tomorrow and throughout this process,” he said.
Those concerns expressed at the council meeting dealt with changing the character of the community surrounding the center.
“I’m not opposed to the shopping center, but strongly opposed to multi-level housing units,” said Mary Beth Blocker, who lives three houses down from the Bowie Marketplace site. “The footprint of Bowie has always been single-family or townhomes, so if it’s higher than two stories I think it will be an eyesore in the middle of Levitt Bowie.”
Other concerns centered around increased traffic, such as on Stonybrook Road where left-hand turns are already difficult, as well as the availability of residential parking.
Berman responded by noting the new site plan, which showed a new building footprint, as well as talking about the architecture planned for the complex.
“We’ve tried to create a little bit of undulation in the building such that we hope will eliminate or at least mitigate some of the concerns in terms of size and the transition between single family and (apartments),” he said of the site plan.
Berman also said his company had hired Lessard Group as the architects for the project because of their commitment to integrating their designs with the surrounding community.
“They have worked within communities to make the architecture sort of fit within the community that they’re in so it doesn’t feel like an eyesore,” he said. “The architecture will try to draw upon the history of Bowie (and) the aesthetic of the shopping center itself, as well as the surrounding area.”
Councilwoman Diane Polangin asked Berman whether there would be any subsidized units in the apartment complex. He assured her there would not.
“There are rumors and people are very concerned about Section 8 housing and whether it is going to be subsidized housing,” she said. “I just wanted all the people at home to hear that there is no Section 8.”
The apartments would have their grand opening in winter 2018 or spring 2019.
Turning to the shopping center, which will comprise 30,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a Harris Teeter, a high-end grocery store, Berman said construction is well underway and they are on track to have the grand opening this September. He also noted all but 10 retail spots have already been filled.
Mayor G. Frederick Robinson thanked Berman for the company’s investment in the property.
“You guys have turned an eyesore into something that’s really good quality,” he said. “We’re looking forward to seeing the plans (for the apartments). I’m sure you will find, as you have before, that the people of Bowie are very engaged.”
Berman said he is looking forward to working with the community on the residential portion.
“I’m not naive enough to think I can please everybody exactly the way that they want,” he said. “I think that with all of (the changes), and that we’re committed to a high-end product that we think will integrate really well into the marketplace retail, that folks will come around and feel comfortable with it.”