In a blank-walled, concrete-floored, echo-filled, empty retail space Monday, the topic of discussion was Odenton.
Area developers and lenders met with retailers that might move into a number of open storefronts, including those at the Village at Odenton Station, where the meeting took place.
Like the meeting space, which happens to have the makings for a restaurant, Odenton is missing a lot, they said. It needs more casual and fine dining, more quality retail establishments, perhaps another major grocery store.
But, also similar to the meeting space, it has potential. It has all the makings for these types of businesses to arrive, they said, including ample retail and service space now that a number of development projects, including the Village, are beginning to come to fruition.
“This area is incredibly underserved. It’s got all this great residential, and there’s no restaurants,” said Stanley J. Constantine, president of Baltimore Coffee & Tea, which opened two months ago as the first commercial tenant at the Village at Odenton Station. “It actually reminds me of Columbia back when Columbia first started.”
According to a retail market analysis compiled by Valbridge Property Advisors for the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., the population living within a 10-minute drive of Odenton’s town center grew by about 28 percent from 2000 to 2012. That population’s median income in 2012 was about $81,000.
The numbers are attributed to growth at nearby Fort Meade following the military’s last BRAC relocation and from the expansion of Cyber Command.
“We kind of knew anecdotally that the market was growing and improving, and we commissioned this study to really show and demonstrate just how much had changed,” said Mary Burkholder, executive vice president of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.
Burkholder also compared Odenton to Columbia, based on its new demographics.
“The difference with this market versus Columbia is Columbia has been discovered and is peaking if not peaked,” she said. “This market is really coming up.”
The population and median income within 10 minutes of Odenton’s town center are both expected to keep growing in the coming years, according to the study.
“What’s happened here with Fort Meade and everything going on has created a need for services,” said Patricia Palumbo, director of leasing for the Metropolitan Management Co. She is working on getting tenants into the available retail and restaurant space at the Village at Odenton Station.
“All the growth is here, but the services aren’t,” she said.
Retail property at the Village is going for about $28 to $35 per square foot, and it’s about 20 percent leased. The commercial spaces are located directly beneath fully leased apartments and across the street from the state’s busiest MARC station.
Space is also available in existing developments for lower prices, said Stuart Title of commercial real estate firm A.J. Properties, what he calls a bargain.
Representatives from businesses including Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Anytime Fitness showed up at Monday’s gathering to hear the pitch from area economic development officials and property developers. Constantine of Baltimore Coffee & Tea backed them up. So far, he said, business has been good in Odenton.
“I had my doubts in the beginning, as I’m sure you all do, too,” he said to the room full of businesspeople. “But it works.”