Can We Get a Starbucks in Odenton?
Local business officials confirmed they have been trying to bring a Starbucks to Odenton. But will the coffee chain move in?
With the Odenton Town Center starting to take shape, there has been one thing residents have been clamoring for more than almost anything else: a Starbucks.
The seemingly ubiquitous coffee chain has set up shop in nearby places including the Arundel Mills area and Gambrills, but has yet to sign a lease in Odenton.
The Seattle-based company has thus far rebuffed overtures from the real estate community, though it has been courted heavily.
Patricia Palumbo of Metropolitan Management Company confirmed that she has had numerous conversations with Starbucks officials over the years, and even took them on tours of the area. Palumbo has been working on behalf of the Village at Odenton Station and Meade Center, a proposed retail complex on Annapolis Road.
"Starbucks is definitely looking," Palumbo said. "They need to be convinced. We'd love to have them in Odenton."
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The lack of a coffeeshop has been frustrating to Claire Louder, president of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, who said she is often forced to hold meetings in her conference room and provide coffee herself.
“I want to get these people out of my office, where they are drinking coffee for free,” she said. “I have people asking me everyday, where the nearest Starbucks? It’s amazing to me they haven’t see the potential of this community.”
Starbucks officials declined to comment on any discussions regarding Odenton. However, the company did announce earlier this month that it would open 3,000 new stores in 2013, including 1,500 in the United States.
Real estate experts said the reluctance of Starbucks to open in Odenton stems from a pair of stubborn issues: a general belief that Odenton has not yet “arrived” as a community, and a misunderstanding of the impact of Fort Meade’s population. (Official demographic data for the area does not include the 57,000 people residing or working on the installation.)
Palumbo also said retailers need to consider the thousands of commuters who park at the MARC station each day, and the fact that the Village Odenton Station is designed to be a sustainable, transit-oriented-development.
"Today, many retailers, including Starbucks, have made commitments to open stores in this type of project to support developers' and communities' smart growth initiatives," she said.
For many observers of the area, a Starbucks would be a great amenity in a town that still lacks many retail options.
“There’s a lot happening here now, I would think the retail people would want to get in," said Gill Wylie, president of Johns Hopkins Medical Corporation, who spearheaded the recent construction of a new medical building in east Odenton. "A Starbucks over there by the train station, I can’t imagine it would not be successful there."
Wylie noted that while many people are counting on Johns Hopkins to provide the base of workers to spark new retail development, they in turn would like to see more options for places to eat and shop.
"There are plenty of people who are Starbucks addicts. I’ll be going there," Wylie said. "If it’s central enough, it will help build that synergy. When you don’t have a place like that, it kind of drops you down a notch.”
There is some hope that Starbucks may come around in 2013, if company officials become aware of the growth at Fort Meade and the construction of more than 1,300 apartment units in town.
“I believe that this town is ready for Starbucks,” Louder said. “There is absolutely demand. It’s a matter of whether they are ready for us. I just can’t imagine the market studies don’t show that potential.”