Did You Know That Uptons, the Discount Department Store, Had a Brief MoCo Run (Kentlands) in the 90s?

by MCS Staff

Uptons, a discount department store that started in Georgia in 1985 and grew to 75 stores across the east coast by the mid 90s, opened a Montgomery County location in the Kentlands where The Colonnade development currently stands. According to The Colonnade history page, The Colonnade was formally known as the Archstone Kentlands Village. It was annexed into the City of Gaithersburg in 1967 by the Mayor and City Council along with the other Kentlands properties. In 1988 the property was rezoned to Mixed Use Development (MXD). The MXD zone designation allows for a mix of commercial and residential uses. The property became a part of the Kentlands Retail Section II in the Kentlands development.

In 1994, the Planning Commission approved the Uptons Department Store at the corner of Quince Orchard Road (MD Route 124) and Great Seneca Highway (MD Route 119). In 1995, the Boston Market restaurant was constructed on property adjacent to Uptons Department Store. Due to the development of Market Square and the topography of the Kentlands Shopping Center, the commercial and pedestrian activity shifted to Kentlands Boulevard. Less than 5 years after it opened, in 1999, the Uptons and Boston Market building was left vacant. During the schematic design process, the City and developers decided that the property was no longer appropriate for retail development because of the difficulty access it from Quince Orchard Road. By 2000, Uptons had closed all of its stores across the east coast.

So what happened next?

According to The Colonnade history page, residents of the Kentlands voiced support for a 2001 proposal to build luxury apartments on the 5.8 acre site. And in 2002, the Planning Commission approved a mixed use plan for the former Upton’s location. The final site plan consisted of 307 residential apartments, 13,193 square foot of office and commercial space, a 1,600-square-foot leasing office, 3,089 square foot of clubhouse amenity space and an associated parking garage structure. The City of Gaithersburg 2003 Master Plan designated the property as Commercial-Office-Residential land use.

What is currently the Colonnade was developed as an apartment complex by the Archstone Company. Construction of the Colonnade was essentially completed in 2005. At that time, Archstone sold the property to El Ad to be converted into condominiums. In 2006, El Ad negotiated an annexation agreement with the Kentlands Citizens Assembly (KCA) that would make the Colonnade part of the Kentlands. This agreement provided that for a small monthly fee, the Colonnade could be marketed as part of the Kentlands. Colonnade residents can use the open areas of the KCA and participate in some programs, but not use the pool, the clubhouse or the athletic facilities.

After some difficult times in the real estate/condominium market, El Ad sold its final units and the Colonnade came under resident control in November 2011. Since then, the Colonnade has committed to being the area’s leading high end condominium complex with recreational and other amenities in close proximity to downtown Kentlands and all that it has to offer.


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