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!