Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The NEW Mall at Laurel

It's not often you get to see the hidden hand of the market. But tonight the market manhandled the old Laurel Mall and proposed transforming it into something totally unique.
A standing room only crowd gathered at Laurel City Hall to hear and see renderings of the new mall. An impressive team from Somera Capital Mgt (developer and owner), AEW Capital (owners), General Growth (leasing and development), and Callison (architect) described the project and provided the back story for the redevelopment.
The developers explained what the community said in focus groups about the old mall and it was not pretty. Dead, dirty, disgusting were the nice words. One person was quoted as saying that the existing mall was a big disappointment for new folks and an embarrassment for the community. After establishing the low water mark, the team turned towards the transformation concept.
The architect presented a slide show explaining how they turned to Laurel's unique history for new design elements. Georgian architectural elements lifted from the train station. Brick facades and stone are reminiscent of Laurel's early mills. Lots of brick, wrought iron and features from turn of the century color palettes. The pageantry of Thoroughbred horse racing lend an air of fun and color to a children's playground.
Mayor Craig Moe introduced the team and explained how the city is committed to redevelopment. Karl Brendle, Laurel Director of Development and the Mayor created a form of land use planning called a revitalization overlay zoning that was one of the first of its kind in the state. The City Council approved the award winning approach by quickly turning it into law. This is the kind of amazing and innovative policy wonk stuff that Laurel does so quickly and well. Mega kudos to the Mayor, Council, Bob Manzi the city attorney, Karl Brendle and the whole city team. Kudos also to the capital providers and developers for having faith in Laurel.
More to come from me but here are the architect's renderings. Please use the comments section for your comments and questions.
UPDATE - I forgot to mention the new 16 screen state of the art movie theatres!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cool Idea - Silver Spring Restaurant Week

There was great interest in our Laurel Connections Blog's restaurant survey from all over the area. A number of new readers are finding our little blog every day by doing Google searches like "Mango Grill Hours." It is really surprising how many people have found the blog. What is more surprising is how many people come to Laurel to eat.

This morning I read in the Silver Spring Singular blog about a cool idea called Restaurant Week. The week of dining is sponsored by the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, the Silver Spring Regional Center and The Washington Post.

Maybe it is time for a Taste of Laurel Restaurant Week. Laurel Chamber of Commerce, Laurel City Council, Laurel Leader, what do you think? It would be fun and besides, Joanne said its my turn to cook next year.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Laurel Mall Plans

Karl Brendle passed along the following public invitation to learn about the rebirth of the Laurel Mall.

Somera Capital Management & AEW Capital Management General Growth Properties
The City of Laurel & The Honorable Mayor Craig A. Moe Cordially invite you to join them for a public meeting to announce the plans for the new Laurel Mall

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.
City of Laurel / City Hall
8103 Sandy Spring Blvd.
Laurel, MD 20707

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Traffic Woes - We Can't hide

Tom Dernoga, County Councilman and good friend of this blog, sends along an interesting invitation for us to help the Prince George County Council set priorities for traffic projects.

So let us pull our heads out of our, er, out of the the sand and participate in the process. What do we have to lose?

You can directly ask Tom questions about this session at
TEDernoga at co.pg.md.us

"The Prince George’s County Council, through its Transportation, Housing and Environment (THE) Committee, cordially invites you to participate in public hearings to discuss the County’s transportation and transit priorities.

This is an important opportunity for public input into the Council’s consideration of the annual County priorities list, as well as the upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2008. With limited State and Federal transportation funds, it is important for the Council to hear our citizens' priorities for reducing congestion, increasing mass transit, improving roads, as well as trail, bike and pedestrian improvements.

Each hearing will begin at 7:00 pm. The location and place for each hearing is as follows:

Wednesday January 31, 2007

City of College Park
City Hall – Council Chamber
4500 Knox Road
College Park, Maryland

Thursday February 1, 2007
Town of Morningside
Municipal Building
6901 Ames Street
Suitland, Maryland

You may register to speak by contacting Mr. Todd M. Turner, Legislative Officer, at 301-952-4116 or
tmturner@co.pg.md.us. We appreciate your efforts on behalf of your community.

Thank you as well for your kind consideration and we look forward to seeing you on January 31st and/or February 1st. "

Monday, January 15, 2007

Laurel Connections Podcast Series

Joan Fitzgerald has done many things during her 30 years of living in Laurel. She is, or has been a ... management analyst for the National Labor Relations Board, desktop publisher, computer teacher, Sweet Adelines singer, mother, grandmother, municipal activist, historical preservationist, current events seminar leader, Friend of Main Street , coffee shop barrista and environmental advocate. She has more energy and opinions than any other person I know in Laurel. But most of all she always has time for a friend. Listen to the first of my Laurel Connections audio podcasts as I have a conversation with my friend, Joan Fitzgerald.

Click here for the PODCAST. Once the window pops up, click the play button.

Please let me know what you think of this podcast in the comments section. Do you have a suggestion for interesting interview with someone in Laurel? Please let me know at g.rick.wilson at gmail.com.

Please be sure to subscribe to the Laurel Connections email list to be notified of new articles and podcasts. There is a handy subscription window on the right. Or simply send a blank email message to: LaurelConnections-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Thank You.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nixon and Children

I drove Joanne and number 1 daughter to the Kennedy Center yesterday. They went to see "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf." There was a minivan in front of us with these two bumper stickers. They cracked me up.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Train Runs Through It.

Click on the picture and look closely. Check out the Just Up The Pike Blog for the story.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Boat Shoes, No Socks

Did you get outside Thursday? Unbelievable. Welcome to far North Miami.

I love global warming. Laurel will have waterfront property as soon as the ice caps melt. Anne Arundel County will be called the Annapolis shallows.

[Note to Public Works Director Ted Dulaney: Quick, sell all the road salt, we'll need to buy a used beach sweeper.]

Joanne has been nagging me about having a sailboat drydocked in our back yard for the last 20 years. It turns out I'm not eccentric, I was just getting ready to be Laurel's first harbormaster.

Mayor, do I need a building permit for a dock? Do PODS float?

Pina Colada's are half price at Captain Oliver's Main Street Marina tonight. Wear your boat shoes, no socks please.