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Big Plans at Former Nevamar Site

Construction of new apartments at the north side of the former Nevamar site could begin in 30 days, and the developer has plans for retail and other uses on the 55-acre complex.

 

For years, drivers down Telegraph Road into Odenton haven’t been greeted with the best view. The left side of the road was once home to the former Nevamar facility, a vast industrial site that once housed hundreds of local workers, but has been dormant for more than seven years.

Now a developer is hoping to inject life into the 55-acre site, with plans to redevelop the entire complex into a mixed-use project with homes and retail businesses.

Bethesda-based StonebridgeCarras has spent more than six years obtaining ownership of the various buildings on the site, and has partnered with Bozzuto Group on plans for 369 upscale apartments.

is nearly complete, and the company hopes to move forward with construction within 30 days.

“It’s been a long, hard road,” StonebridgeCarras co-founder and principal George Carras said. “It’s been more complex, more complicated and more stressful than we ever could have thought, but we’re very excited about the prospects for Odenton Town Center. We really are.”

Once the apartments are completed sometime in 2013, StonebridgeCarras hopes to move forward with plans for the rest of the site, which includes four more vacant buildings and a narrow parking lot on the east side of Telegraph Road.

It has not presented specific plans, but the company said it will be a good place for retail, including a possible grocery store or big box store. The depth of the site from the street makes the site particularly unique in the area, StonebridgeCarras officials said.

“We’re beginning to think about the next phase. We have some ideas, and we’ve done some master planning,” StonebridgeCarras principal Ellen Miller said. “It’s such a great location and such a large piece of land.”

After some internal debate and consultation, the company settled on Academy Yard as the name of the development, making reference to the area’s railroad history. The apartments will be named

The strength of the economy will play a large role in the timing of the retail portion of the project. Currently, retailers have been reluctant to move to Odenton, believing that the area hasn’t reached a proper level of population density.

But with apartment units and homes under construction—and significant growth planned by major tenants at Fort Meade —developers said it’s just a matter of time before retailers will see Odenton as the place to be.

“The real question is when, and who,” Carras said. “We think it’s a great site, but one that has to mature. We think of this as a true long-term project for us.”

StonebridgeCarras has spent millions of dollars on the Nevamar site, even before construction has started. Acquiring the land was a costly process, because the buildings on site were under the control of several different companies.

Each building on the site required environmental testing, including hundreds of borings into the soil and the extraction of vapor and other substances. International Paper, which once owned a building in the middle of the site, is in the process of completing a major environmental remediation that began in the mid-1990s.

Carras said that overall, the environmental problems on the site were not as bad as they could have been, given the industrial nature of the work that took place there. He said he’s confident that cleanup and testing will be done soon.

Concern over wetlands in the area proved to be largely unfounded, the developer said, because most wetlands on the site are in the back of the site, where the company has no plans to build.

There has been some push by local historians and former employees to preserve at least a portion of the buildings. Carras said that his company’s analysis of the buildings did not reveal anything of true historic value, though it plans to work to preserve a circular art deco mural that hangs in the rotunda of what was once the main entrance to Nevamar.

Carras said he believes the mural can be removed and hopes to find a place in Odenton where it can be displayed.

Miller and Carras said they may order the demolition of the remaining buildings soon, because they’ve been the targets of vandals, who have broken in to search for copper piping and other metal to sell.

The ultimate goal, Carras said, is to create a “northern gateway” for Odenton, with a great view for people coming into town.

“Our hope is that the experience that you get off Route 32, is to come down Route 170 and start to feel what Odenton is all about,” he said. “It’s a sign of progress.”

What do you think of the plans for Nevamar?

Karts Huseonica December 13, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Nice article & photos Tim updating us on this important project. Hmmmm, the apartment's name however seems a bit ...? Maybe we should hold judgement until giving it more thought? Cheers, Karen & Art (Karts) Huseonica
susan December 13, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I thought the buildings were unique and beautiful! Today's builders and planners find it easier to just demolish instead of preserve! What a shame! Yeah, we need more retail in Odenton, that's why there are so many vacant retail spaces for lease! There are 3 vacant retail openings in the Odenton Shopping Center alone. Piney Orchard has some openings as well. I would much rather see green spaces and community gathering places. Retail is close enough in all directions do we really need a big box store in our own back yard! Literally for me! No, I'm happy to drive a few miles away and I prefer to give my money to a small local business.
Murray Hunt Jr December 13, 2011 at 05:18 PM
What is up with the trailers in the parking lot across from this site? I see a guy sitting there almost everyday but never any one visiting him. Just wondering.
Cecilia Pfau December 13, 2011 at 05:53 PM
I agree with the above comment about the name of the apartments. It just doesn't sound upscale at all or welcoming. The mental picture it brings to my mind isn't inviting at all. Hope they'll think that one over again.
todd December 13, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Dissappointing that at least some of the facades can't remain, especially given that the "Faux Lofts" they are building would likely fit in. As for the apartments, yawn!! Another batch of low-rise buildings in a sea of parking lots. The lack of a true master plan for the site means another strip mall or another developer who tries to count the rental office as "retail" and dub's the place "mixed use." Even the big apartments almost done by the train station are dissappointing. The parking and retail is set up is idential to the failing complexes up and down Rte.1. Why they think it will work buried in the back there is beyond me. And don't even get me started on the traffic mess coming to 170/175. The area showed so much potential, but look at all our local shopping centers, the apartment complexes, the fading glory in Piney Orchard and Seven Oaks (those HOA's really need to get their acts together) Odenton is fragmented and rudderless, the town center plan is not serving us well. When I look at the plan I see what's missing: A Center!!! The developers are not orienting things towards one and other, so in the end it will just be a miss-match of unsuccessful, un-related destinations. AA County Planners and Town Officials have pretty much failed us. It's just more of the same-old that doesn't work elsewhere in the county, but maybe this time it will be different! Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is the definition of something...
CM December 14, 2011 at 02:05 AM
The development around Odenton meets the requirements of the Odenton Town Center Plan. The plan itself was put together by Odenton citizen committees many years ago. Development plans are reviewed by the Odenton Town Center Oversite Committee (unpaid community volunteers) to ensure that potential developments comply. I'm not sure what todd means by "true master plan". Odenton's plan is over 100 pages. Since the core of the Town Center can not be developed until larger sewer and water lines are constructed we are going to see smaller parcels (yes like the Flats 170 project around the core. Apartments are the "in thing" right now since banks are not loaning money to anybody without big down payments. I'm a little skeptical about more than a 1000 apartments in Odenton being for rent but I'm going to be optimistic.
Michele December 15, 2011 at 07:28 PM
If memory serves me correctly, the master plan was once called a Town Plan with the Town Center being in the core area of the legislated boundary. Somehow I believe that got lost and the whole 1600 acres became the Town Center. I believe plans for the core area still call for a walkable 'center'.
Cecilia Pfau December 15, 2011 at 08:25 PM
What about a name like Nevamoor Village or something like that? The current name brings to mind Section 8 housing. Is that the image people want in Odenton? I know I don't. I'd like the value of my home to go back up some day not stay where it currently is or go further down in value.
Michelle W September 14, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Is there any word on what they plan to do about the additional traffic on Telegraph Road this will cause. Trying to get in and out of the area using Telegraph Road is getting worse and worse. I would like to see a dog park in someplace in that 55 acres. It is great place for the community to get to know each other and many homes dont' have large yards or fenced yards. This would be a real treat for dogs and their owners. The cost is minimal, rewards are great.

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