One fact is clear from the mountain of Internet chatter surrounding the impending redevelopment of the .
People really care about their shopping mall.
During a public meeting held Jan. 17, planners debuted initial proposals for the re-worked mall, which according to the Baltimore Sun, would include a 75,000-square-feet "lifestyle center," and would replace the mall's L.L. Bean store.
Changes would also be made to the mall’s parking structure.
In addition, according to the Sun, 30,000 square feet of existing retail space would be removed, while one or two two-story buildings would be added that connect to the outdoors through outward-facing storefronts.
Lifestyle centers are the new trend in malls: They feature open-air plazas, tend to be smaller than the average suburban mall, and are not giant enclosed structures, which have struggled in many places, like Owings Mills.
is abandoning completely the indoor mall concept, and what stands there now will be torn down. In its place will be an open, pedestrian-friendly outdoor mall. is going through a similar rebirth.
Whatever the future mall plans in Columbia may be, people are already letting their opinions fly online.
“Nooo. Please don’t get rid of L.L. Bean...It is pretty nuts to add that much new retail space and no new parking. It's already tough finding a spot by the AMC Theater now,” a commenter on the Sun’s story stated.
Patch readers had similar sentiments.
“I don't want to see the indoor shopping space reduced. If they just add more stores, then that is fine,” a commenter stated. “Removing more of the indoor shopping areas will make you have to move your call around the parking lot to get to other stores. You won't want to do this on bad weather days.”
Meanwhile, on his blog HoCoRising, Columbia Association member Tom Coale called for residents to eschew invoking memories of Columbia’s famed developer Jim Rouse when talking about plans for the site.
“I often feel like Columbia residents abdicate their responsibility to think forward by using Jim Rouse as a crutch,” Coale wrote. “We have an obligation to that man to make Columbia attractive for new residents, walkable, financially successful, and an asset to the county as a whole (rather than the one third of us who live within its amorphous borders). But instead we obsess over what a (respectfully) deceased man would have preferred?”
In fact, Coale proposed a Jim Rouse “Swear Jar” for those who invoked his memory too liberally to support their views.
Dennis Lane, who blogs on the Tales of Two Cities, urged people to relax and let plans unfold before being overly critical of what’s to come.
“What part of ‘pre’ don’t they understand?,” Lane wondered.