Vanguard unveils North Point plan
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:16

by Ben Boehl

    Vanguard Retail Property Development is proposing a plan for the North Point Government Center site that would leave the athletic fields untouched while providing a new recreation center and building as many as seven new retail slots, according to Vanguard partner Leonard Wienberg II.
    Vanguard and Sollers Investors LLC were the only two companies to bid on the Government Center site when it was placed on the market by Baltimore County.
    In an interview with The Eagle on Monday, Weinberg said that Vanguard would rename the site Merritt Pavilion— touted as “a community gathering place in Dundalk.”
    “It’s a great corner that will include retail, ballfields and a rec center,” Weinburg said.
    Under the Vanguard proposal, the athletic fields would remain where they are. The fields would be upgraded to include bigger backstops on the baseball/softball diamonds and seating for spectators.
    The new 22,100-square-foot multipurpose facility would be built on the Church Road side of the property, and the parking lot would be built on the same side, under the power lines.
    The recreation center would include provisions for all programs currently located at the Government Center, including an indoor theatre for Sky is the Limit and the music programs as well as youth sports leagues and other community programs. An environmentally-friendly playground would be added as well.    
    Weinberg admitted there was some confusion when an amphitheater was proposed by Vanguard.
    According to an information sheet provided by Vanguard, the outdoor theater would have bowl-style seating and a gazebo pavilion. Vanguard said that the amphitheater could be a welcoming place for outdoor concerts, live performances, community events, but it was not meant to be a replacement for the current theatre.
    “The amphitheater was our idea. Maybe if it’s a bad idea, we are happy to look at spending the money somewhere else on the property,” Weinberg said.     
    “We weren’t proposing it as an alternative. The amphitheater was in addition to the indoor theatre.”
    Vanguard’s plan calls for 44,500 square feet of space, which would include six to seven retail pads on the site.
    The plan anticipates hosting service providers such as eye, dental and urgent care, and Weinberg hopes to get a quality restaurant like Panera Bread and an ice cream store such as Cold Stone Creamery.
    On the issue of the July 4 fireworks, Weinberg said that having retail would encourage the continuation of the annual show.
    He pointed out that all the open fields would still be available as space for the fireworks, and the new retail sites would be housed where the Government Center building is today.
    “There should be no problem with the fireworks,” Weinberg added.     
    “In fact, the retailers would love it, as they could sell ice cream and food during the fireworks.”
    Weinberg said he has heard the opposition from such groups as Dundalk United, but argued that the Government Center building must come down because it is outdated and no longer efficient. He wondered why the community would not like a new recreation center.
    He also heard about the Sollers Investors plan to move the athletic fields and recreation center to the former Seagram’s property [which is also under the aegis of Sollers Investors participant John Vontran] and turn the North Point site entirely into retail.
    Like the Sollers plan, Vanguard’s proposal is privately funded and will not cost anything to the taxpayers, but Vanguard believes its plan has more advantages as it does not include a big box, grocery store or any residential development.    
    “We think our plan makes more sense for what the community needs,” he said.
    “Our plan is to make a connection between the ballfields to the rec center to the retail.”