The newly revamped Kentlands Business Owners (KB0) group along with members of One Main Street Initiative (OMSI) gathered at Sin & Grin restaurant, 353 Main St., on Nov. 12 for an update on the Kentlands Market Square development from John Schlichting, City of Gaithersburg director of planning, who is also a member of OMSI. Schlichting was invited to speak by the Kentlands Business Owners group that has reemerged after a period of dormancy.
“This was our first meeting in a long time, and we felt it was important to make sure that we were all on the same page,” said lead organizer Kelly Grossberg, director of marketing and business development for Capitol Benefits, 364 Main St.
Schlichting shared printed copies of Kimco’s Kentlands Market Square sketch plans, approved by the city on July 16, 2018, so that attendees could see the four phases of anticipated development in the downtown area. Phase 1 includes 245 multi-family residential units along with 12,500 square feet of retail space and 1,140 square feet of office space in the surface parking lot and current locations of Buca di Beppo, the U.S. Post Office and Orangetheory Fitness.
Marina Khoury, partner at Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) architecture and planning firm that designed the Kentlands/Lakelands, was present at the meeting and commented on the future architectural plans of these residential units. Khoury said that the current sketch plans show a more modern-looking building and that she suggested that “the design be more similar to the unique architecture that is the Kentlands.”
Schlichting also touched on the future of the Kentlands Square shopping area, owned by Saul Centers real estate. Current approved plans are for Starbucks to build a drive-through coffee shop in that shopping center, located across Kentlands Boulevard from the Kimco-owned Kentlands Market Square area.
In addition to the downtown development briefing, local business owners learned about OMSI business owners’ goals—and the newly active KBO heard what each group and business is working on and how goals overlap.
“There are several groups of Kentlands business owners in the neighborhood. We wanted to get the group together so that we could establish how this group can help local business owners and operators,” said Grossberg. “We plan to meet once a month for an hour and want to accommodate as many business owners as possible by meeting both in the mornings from 8 to 9 a.m. or evening from 4 to 5 p.m. We would like to have a different business host each month, giving them a chance to show off their office or business to the other members. We also plan to have a guest speaker each month that brings value by teaching and discussing with those in attendance various ways in which to grow their business. We will be meeting in January, and we will have the owner of Blue Corona to discuss how to engage more clients through the use of social media,” said Grossberg.
There are more than 100 active members on the Kentlands Business Owners Facebook page, www.facebook.com/groups/kentlandsbusinessowners, and membership is free. To join the group, just ask to join the Facebook page. The premise of this group is to share and learn from each other as business owners in Kentlands.
The One Main Street Initiative (OMSI) members were present and are an equally important group to the development of the Kentlands commercial areas. Made up also of local business owners and local residents, this group’s main objective is “to create a cohesive downtown where the Main Street live-work buildings, the Kimco property and the Saul property work together to create a fantastic shopping district. The creation of this would be a huge amenity for the neighborhood and the surrounding community,” said Neil Burka, Lakelands resident and contact person for OMSI.
OMSI was created by the Kentlands Community Foundation (KCF) in 2017 to come up with ways to revitalize Kentlands’ Main Street.
OMSI is currently advocating to hire a part-time executive director to support its objective. “We really need the support of the Kentlands and Lakelands HOAs to fund this position, so we can accomplish our objective,” said Burka.
OMSI’s detailed objectives that were shared with Gaithersburg’s City Council (as previously reported by The Town Courier) are to develop a “retail roadmap” for the Main Street area, including
- market positioning for Main Street and Downtown Kentlands;
- retail programming for increased economic activity;
- funding strategies for business attraction and support to live-work property owners;
- year-round events and activation programming strategies;
- partnership and collaboration tactics amongst various Main Street and Downtown Kentlands stakeholders; and
- strategies for a Main Street Organization and Downtown Alliance.
“OMSI members also plan to participate in the meetings organized by the Kentlands Business Owners group,” said Burka.