I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
I've heard word that the Columbia Medical Plan was sold to an investment company called Welltower, which specialized in the investment of capital for various types of medical facilities, notably senior care facilities and primary care facilities. I've also heard that Welltower has actually owned the property for some time, and that the company only recently changed it's name to Welltower. This article would bear that out.
My primary care doctor happens to have his offices at the Columbia Medical Plan facility, so I have an interest in the upkeep and, no pun intended, health of the facility. And I'm happy to say, whenever I've been there over the past couple years during business hours, the facility seems well-used. And I know that a few years ago the property underwent some extensive internal renovations.
I can also recall that, at least the prior owner of the property was interested in it becoming more mixed use. In 2006-2007, they did explore the possibility of building townhomes on some of the property. This proposal was panned by the neighboring community in Thunder Hill, so it didn't get off the ground.
But I wonder if it isn't time to revisit the possibility of making the Columbia Medical Plan property more mixed use? Although it is busy, large portions of the parking lots go unused. And it has a great location, just off of the intersection of MD175 and Thunder Hill Road.
Am I saying, let's explore building more housing there? No, course not! What I'm proposing are generally, more day-based activities, though some activities could go on until 9, 10, or possibly later. I'm proposing, just as an individual, not officially in any way, that the County and whatever other powers that be exist, consider moving the Oakland Mills Village Center merchants to the Columbia Medical Plan property.
The reasons why to do this are plain. First, the location provides the opportunity for much more traffic to go by, and therefore, to stop in. Second, I'm only talking about moving the merchants at the current village center, from Second Chance through Food Lion. That footprint would definitely fit. Third, what moving those properties would do, would be to allow for the expansion of the Columbia Ice Rink to become the multi-sports facility that some in the community envision. Four, it could allow for the opportunity for other business to be built adjacent to the sports facility, or for that matter, housing. And fifth, doing this would not cause one single person to be displaced who currently lives in Oakland Mills.
On the other hand, the one drawback I see is that the village center merchants would be displaced from the village's densest housing, but then again, it could be accessible by HC Transit.
I've talked before about this sort of "land swap" to some people of import in the county and it's been kind of pooh-poohed. Mostly because, it hasn't been done before. But, isn't this exactly what HoHu is planning to do in their affordable housing plan? Aren't they planning land swaps, because otherwise, how could they promise to build affordable housing on land that they don't own?
In my opinion, the craziest thing about this plan is that it makes good sense. And yes, I know, a lot of people have to agree to this and make sure that it's good for their respective businesses. But at first blush, this looks like a winner for all sides. It oughtta happen.
Let's be careful out there.
#columbiamd #oaklandmills #hoco