In suburban locations, the viability and health of retail business locations is based on a mix of elements including the strength of the trade area, automobile traffic counts, visibility and signage, physical attractiveness of the area, parking and pedestrian facilities, and mix of uses. Other factors include nearby competition, which also ties into the strength of the trade area. Nearly all sectors of retail businesses in suburban areas require a location with enough drive-by traffic to make the location attractive and successful. The Village Center is centrally located within Harper’s Choice and is in close proximity to nearby community destinations and institutions.
Traffic counts for Cedar Lane and Harper’s Farm Road near the Village Center are available but are more than ten years old. However, there are a few more recent counts for the nearby intersections and these show a general upward trend in traffic volumes. Based on this it is safe to say that the current traffic volumes at Harper’s Farm Road and Cedar Lane are higher than they were 10 years ago. In any case, there is a significant level of drive-by traffic in this area. This base level of traffic flow on Harper’s Farm Road and Cedar Lane contributes to the success of the shopping center now and in the future.
The Village Center is served by a number of surface parking lots, many of which are used as shared parking resources. The parking lots are grouped in six distinct areas: the lot in front of the Safeway, the lot in front of the village shops with direct right in/right out access from Harper’s Farm Road; the lot that serves the Columbia Skate Park/Sports Park facility; the shared lots between the back of Safeway and the Columbia Athletic Club that serve Kahler Hall, the Bain Center, the Columbia Association Athletic Club and retail customers; and the Harper’s Choice Middle School Parking lot. Not including the middle school parking lots, there are an estimated total of 685 spaces that serve Village Center uses. There are also approximately 55 on-street parking spaces along Beaverkill Road.
In addition to vehicle parking, the Harper’s Choice Village Center is served by facilities for pedestrians and cyclists including sidewalks, crosswalks, trails, bicycle parking, pedestrian signals and signage, and pedestrian lighting. The Transportation Map below shows the location of sidewalks and trails in the Village Center study area. Sidewalks are located on both sides of Harper’s Farm Road. These sidewalks shift away from the street right of way as they meet the elevated pedestrian bridge landings at the northeastern and southeastern quadrants of the intersection of Harper’s Farm Road and Cedar Lane. There is a market crosswalk and pedestrian signal at the Cedar Lane intersection. Sidewalks are also present along both sides of Beaverkill Road and there are two marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals at the intersection with Harper’s Farm Road. There is a pedestrian-activated signal located at the main entrance to the Village Center on Harper’s Farm Road. This intersection is also marked with two cross walks – one across Harpers Farm Road and one across the entrance road to the Village Center. At this crossing, the northwest quadrant of this intersection does not have a sidewalk along the Village Center entrance road. Internal to the Village Center, there are several marked crosswalks that connect the parking areas to the sidewalks/ entrance plazas that line the storefronts. However, direct sidewalks between many of the Village Center features are lacking or incomplete, such as to the Sports Park, between the strip of shops to the West and any of the other buildings, and sidewalks connecting the Athletic Club and amenities to the East with the rest of the center.
There are no bicycle racks within the retail portion of the Village Center. However, there are bicycle racks at the east-facing entrance to Kahler Hall and at the entrance to the Athletic Club. Columbia Association owned and other trails connect the Village Center retail uses to Harper’s Choice Middle School, Cedar Lane Park, the Athletic Club, and to surrounding residential neighborhoods. For those who are not able to drive, walk or bike to the Village Center, there are a variety of bus transit options. Howard County Transit provides local circulator service to the Harper’s Choice Village Center via the Green Route. The Green Route connects the Village Center to Wilde Lake Village Center, the Columbia Mall, Howard Community College, and Howard County General Hospital and Clary’s Forest. Regional Commuter Bus Service to Washington and Baltimore is provided by the Maryland Transit Administration. These routes run during weekday morning and evening rush hour periods. Bus stops that serve the Village Center are located on both sides of Harper’s Farm Road west of the intersection with Cedar Lane. The location of these stops is shown on the Transportation Map.
Within a one-half mile radius of the Cedar Lane and Harper’s Farm Road intersection: Howard General Hospital, the entrance to Howard Community College, Swansfield and Longfellow Elementary schools; Harper’s Choice Middle School; Longfellow Pool and Neighborhood Center; and Swansfield Pool and Neighborhood Center.
Within two miles: Riverhill Village and Hickory Ridge Village Centers, Central Library, The Columbia Mall, Symphony Woods Park, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Hobbits Glen Golf Club, several outdoor pools, Wilde Lake, Lake Kittamaqundi, and Centennial Park.