Southern Maryland News

Local church wants to help revitalize Indian Head

New Life shares concept plan for mixed use developmen­t

- By TIFFANY WATSON Twitter: @TiffIndyNe­ws

Members of New Life Christian Ministries Internatio­nal have identified a need in the Town of Indian Head for various amenities, and they believe through economic developmen­t they can continue to be an asset to the town and its residents.

On April 3, William L. Price, project manager at Bryant Mitchell Architects, and New Life Christian Ministries Internatio­nal located in Indian Head presented the Gateway Center at Indian Head concept plan during the town meeting. The church expressed interest in developing retail, commercial and religious facilities on the Ely property.

“We were invited to do this project by New Life Christian Ministries Internatio­nal and we asked the pastors if we could address the town. We hope the community is fully participat­ory in what we are trying to do. We are looking for community input, comments, participat­ion and for them to buy into what we are doing here, just as the Pastors have done,” Price said.

The plans present an opportunit­y for the church to expand its sanctuary but also make the property community oriented, with a grocery store, daycare and community center. Potential developmen­t will take place at the Ely property, which is 6.75 acres and one of the largest parcels in the town, located at 4445-4481 Indian Head Highway.

“We watch people go across to Dollar General for food, and Price said this was considered a food desert so we want to supply a grocery store to the town,” said Pastor Stacie V. Houston of New Life. “We really want to be a benefit to Indian Head and see change. We’re not here for just religious purposes but we’re here for change. We really want the community to be behind us.”

The church has created two community developmen­t corporatio­ns — one for-profit and one nonprofit — and are currently located where the old Bank of America used to operate in the town. Price said the church has been in contact with the Ely family and potential developers, but first he sought feedback from the town and council about the proposed project.

“We have looked at the [Urban Land Institute] Study recommenda­tions and other town informatio­n because we’re going to come in and create something that did not exist before,” Price said.

The proposed concept plan shows the refurbishi­ng and repurposin­g of the existing structure at the Ely Property being done in three phases. Phase 1 includes the renovation of the Ely shopping center — adding a grocery store (20,000 square feet), retail/commercial space (25,000 square feet), leasable retail tenant space (12,000 square feet) and then resurfaced, restriped, paved parking space.

Phase 2 includes building a daycare.

Phase 3 is the renovation of corporate office space (12,000 square feet) and New Life Christian Ministries Internatio­nal worship center and fellowship/community meeting hall and indoor recreation center, along with expanded paved and surface parking and community park (13,500 square feet).

“One of the issues with attracting a grocery store is that developers are looking for a certain amount of traffic to pass the shop because some of the traffic will stop and shop. Each of the potential grocery stores had a minimal requiremen­t of 20,000 cars. Currently in Indian Head it ranges from 13,000 to 15,000 cars so we are few cars short but we have come up with a resolution,” Price said.

“We are looking for the Town of Indian Head to help in terms of financing. This particular project is going to take a public-private partnershi­p. In addition to the money, the developers are looking for things to happen on the human side, specifical­ly community support of the project,” Price said.

Mayor Brandon Paulin said wanting the community support is something you rarely hear from developers, but it means they want to be invested in the community.

“I think the concept plan was great. A grocery store, the retail/office space, daycare and especially the recreation center for the kids which is something we discussed at the MYAT [Mayor’s Youth Advisory Team] meetings. It was good to hear that those things stay on the tax roll as well as working with developmen­t companies,” Paulin said.

“You had us at grocery store,” said Town Manager Ryan Hicks. “We don’t need a survey to know that we need a grocery store.” Hicks added that the applicants will need to change the zoning designatio­n of the property from “general commercial” to a “mixed use” designatio­n from the town.

“I’m excited to see progress moving forward,” said Councilman Curtis Smith. “These are some things that we need in the community. The council and town staff are currently preparing a citizens survey so I think it would be good to add some questions to it about this project. I was also glad to hear they considered razing one of the buildings and I’m glad they are having conversati­ons with the Ely family because we do need a grocery store. They are using key words like partnershi­p and what ‘we’ want. Now we have to get beyond the concept phase to start where the rubber meets the toad — get documents signed and have some more discussion­s with the council.”

Vice Mayor Ron Sitoula said one of his main concerns for the town is raising taxes. “When non-profit entities come into the town then the town gets next to nothing in terms of revenue . ... Outside of that the plan is excellent and we do have other needs in the town but my concerns are tax revenue down the road,” he said.

The town council will have a more in-depth discussion about the concept plan with the key players involved during a future work session.

 ?? SUBMITTED PHOTO ?? Photo of the vacant Ely property located in the Town of Indian Head.
SUBMITTED PHOTO Photo of the vacant Ely property located in the Town of Indian Head.

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