Clarksville Commons to be Developed

On September 16, 2013, George and Holly Stone, and Joe Rutter, who represent GreenStone Ventures II, LLC gave a presentation of the Clarksville
Commons plans to the River Hill Village Board. The mixed-use development of the Gateway School site, located across MD 108 from the River Hill Village Center, will be developed in two phases. GreenStone Ventures’ vision for the site includes a unique design with an emphasis on  environmental sustainability with a strong pedestrian orientation. The Site Development Plan for the first phase of the project has been submitted and is currently under review by the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning.

The initial phase of the development will include two, two-story buildings centered on a lively courtyard: a Commons where indoor and outdoor retail and cultural activities will be commonplace. To promote walkability and connect to the village center and residences in River Hill, the buildings and major pedestrian access to the site will be placed close to MD 108 and parking will be at the rear of the site. The plan for future  connectivity, creating a way to remove traffic from MD 108, includes access points to easily connect to the Kendall’s property on the south side and Clarksville Square on the north side.

Various environmental sustainability features will be obvious either to pedestrians or people in vehicles passing the Center, the most prominent one being a living green roof on the south-facing roof of the south building. From a sustainability perspective, the green roof will absorb and filter rainwater, allowing for more controlled runoff. Three columns will break the plane of the roof near its edge along MD 108. These signature elements will actually be functional cisterns designed to hold runoff from roofs. This water will be used for irrigation of landscaping on the site. Another very notable environmental feature will be solar panels located on all major south facing roofs. The panels will be part of a solar power system that will offset a significant portion of the power requirements of the site through net metering. Other less dramatic sustainability features will include clerestory windows on both buildings allowing for natural interior lighting, geothermal technology for heating and AC, and pavers for the entire surface of the courtyard allowing water to drain into the ground rather than running off into parking areas or the street.

The entrance to the courtyard from MD108 is oriented towards Great Star Drive and will include both steps and a ramp to accommodate  individuals with disabilities. The other end of the courtyard that borders the parking area will also have a ramp to allow limited vehicular access, for example for farmers bringing produce into the courtyard for marketplace days, or for other activities that would need to be set up such as concerts, outdoor movie nights, and art fairs. Another functional landmark in the courtyard will be a stair tower, reminiscent in design to feed silos once common in Howard County. In this case, the “silo” will be repurposed to become a staircase to the second level of the south building. The courtyard will also include several water features arranged to appear as though they are connected. The largest of these, located on the south side of the courtyard, will actually be an interactive fountain with potable water allowing children to play in the warmer months. Water features on the north side will serve to collect storm water to support several rain gardens.

The first floor of both buildings will include areas where tenants will be able to take full advantage of the indoor/outdoor transition. Plans call for incorporation of roll-up storefronts to allow retail to expand outdoors. The second floor of the south building will include both public and private spaces. Plans call for a farm-to-table restaurant to occupy a large portion of the second floor. To emphasize the theme of the restaurant, a greenhouse is planned in which herbs and other provisions will be grown to be used in the restaurant.

The first floor of the north building facing the courtyard will offer retail tenants similar indoor/outdoor transitions as the south building. The second floor of the north building will contain the largest open tenant space on the site. Plans call for a destination tenant to occupy this space: hopefully one who offers cultural and/or education programming.

GreenStone hopes to begin construction in the spring, pending approval of the Site Development Plan. They have confidence that Clarksville Commons will set a new standard for mixed-use commercial centers in this region.

This information was provided by GreenStone Ventures II, LLC. To read their full summary of the project visit www.villageofriverhill.org.

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