Growth on the Golden Mile

November 3, 2015 / / News

By Ken Kellar, Woodsboro/Walkersville Times
Sunday, November 1, 2015

On October 8 the Golden Mile Alliance held a development showcase and open house at Elks Lodge 684 in Frederick. Alliance president and owner of Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, Justin Kiska, kicked off the event by welcoming everyone and introducing
Frederick City Mayor Randy McClement, the second-term Mayor of the City of Frederick. The Mayor communicated his enthusiasm about the Route 40, Golden Mile
plans and activities. Several city, county, and state political officials were in attendance. All the properties represented are within the City of Frederick.

Justin Kiska explained that the Golden Mile Alliance membership consists of 5 business owners, 5 property owners (landlords) and 5 residents. It was started about 5 years ago by Mayor McClement as an ad hoc committee. Today it is an independent organization.

The Townhomes at Willow Bend had a display. They are nearly half way through selling
about 190 former HUD town homes to families and investors. The representative said prices were in the 180 to 200 thousand dollar range which translates to mortgage payments less than prevailing rental rates. Willow Bend is attracting many first time home-owners such as young professionals, newlyweds, and single moms.

Remember the old State Trooper barracks on the corner of Rt. 40 and Baughman’s Lane? It’s gone and a new Wawa is being built and slated to open the summer of 2016.

The last government delay in building the new Walmart at Frederick Towne Center has just been overcome, and construction is expected to start in the next 60 days. The Walmart builder is also building three other retail buildings nearby that total 52 thousand
square feet of floor space.

Another developer displayed plans for the recently annexed Summers Farm Pumpkin Patch. The approximately 70 acre property will be the site of over 300 residences. The plans call for half single-family homes with the balance being town homes. Per the annexation agreement, 10 acres are to be commercial properties, but the developer is seeking relief in order to build the entire property as residential.

The old VFW 9-hole golf course is on the chopping block and is slated to be the site of West Park Village which will consist of fewer than 300 housing units as well as some commercial space.

A representative from Frederick County Public Schools showed the plans for the Butterfly Ridge Elementary School and Community Center. The new school, which is
the same design as North Frederick Elementary, is scheduled to take its first students in August, 2018 and will take in some of the students from surrounding Hillcrest, Waverly, and Orchard Grove Elementary Schools.

Bobby Baumler, an employee of the Frederick Department of Economic Development, displayed plans for a regional park up near Hillcrest. These plans were in the very early stages.

Timothy Davis, a Transportation Planner for the City of Frederick, was at the event to show transportation plans. He mentioned the very diverse demographic and transportation challenges of the Golden Mile region.

The mix of residential and commercial properties combines foot traffic, heavy automobile traffic, public transportation buses, as well as bicyclists, commuting to and from work. The plans on display included modifications to several major intersections. He also discussed the concept of dedicated bus/bike lanes in some areas to minimize their impact on other traffic flow.

I asked several of the presenters about any image issues of the region. This reporter was concerned that the Golden Mile had lost its luster. All were very enthusiastic, noting that the new construction and increase in home ownership is shifting things in a positive direction. One stated that existing landlords of older properties are feeling pressure to upgrade to meet the new expectations of the area, and existing property improvements are taking place. Keep an eye on the Golden Mile, it may be shining again.