Regular passersby in the Town of Indian Head are sure to notice changes to the once-blighted building next to the firehouse on Indian Head Highway going through the middle of town. The dilapidated building, originally consisting of five residential apartments, is now being converted into five executive suites furnished with large screen TVs, WiFi, a small kitchen, a king-sized bed, and all the comforts needed for a short stay in the growing tech corridor. The couple behind this project also owns the town’s coffee shop and is working with a group of committed citizens to also bring a grocery store back to the community.
Mark and Marilyn Steele, owners of Bolans-Darby Partners, want to elevate the lifestyle of those who live and work around the Town of Indian Head, and on MD-210, from Indian Head to Fort Washington. Their neighbor acquired the blighted property and heard they were investing in Indian Head, so he offered to sell the property to them last year.
“We’re very interested in the revitalization strategy of the town,” said Marilyn. “When we see blighted buildings and things that don’t benefit the community, we see where we can make a difference. We saw this building and that it would be a part of the town’s revitalization strategy. It all fit together neatly.”
The new executive suites are one bedroom and the perfect size for business travelers, with easy access to everything happening in Indian Head. Future guests may include those doing business with the Naval Support Facility Indian Head, doing training with the USBTA at the Maryland Technology Center, or meeting with partners at the CSM Velocity Center. The property should be ready to open in late July.
CLARITY COFFEE HOUSE
The Steeles’ first project in Indian Head was Clarity Coffee House. Since opening in 2018, it has thrived in the town, offering customers the chance to relax, reconnect and enjoy great service, drinks, and food. With a variety of specialty coffees and teas, complemented by breakfast, lunch, and snacks, Clarity has quickly become a local favorite.
OASIS GROCERY STORE
As the owners of the thriving Clarity Coffee House, they saw the vacant Algonquin Building nearby and knew it was an opportunity to make Indian Head a better place. It had been more than two decades since the town’s grocery store closed its doors and boarded its windows. The timing was right for the Steeles to take the lead in an effort to bring fresh foods back to Indian Head, though they knew they couldn’t do it alone. Marilyn shared, “We saw a need and forged a path forward with the help of an amazing group of people.”
An Advisory Council of the local community and business leaders became a critical first step. Each member of the council volunteered to join the effort because they believed deeply that this project would have a significant and lasting impact on the Town of Indian Head. Together, the council began to develop a vision for Oasis Fresh Foods Market, from identifying funding options to imagining how the space inside the Algonquin building could be transformed. The project has the strong support and collaboration of the Town’s Mayor and its Town Manager, who are both instrumental in this revitalization strategy.
When it opens in 2023, Oasis Fresh Foods Market will be the first dedicated grocery store in the Town of Indian Head in more than two decades and will offer fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and all the supermarket staples. Locally owned prepared foods will provide an added draw. Surrounding parcels will provide a parking area and a community garden.
Along with the private investment, the grocery store initiative has received supporting funds from critical local, state, and federal sources. They have also made use of the Commercial Real Property Improvement and Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which defers and phases in new real estate property taxes that result from the increased property value due to property renovations. To qualify for the credit, a property must be in a Priority Funding Area (PFA), which includes most of the developed areas of the County. The credit must be applied for through the Charles County Economic Development Department. Marilyn said, “We want to focus on the revitalization strategy for the town. The tax credit is helping to spur that change.”