Big Changes Shown in Plan for Downtown Columbia

Ten acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the Columbia Mall in downtown Columbia are slated to be developed into 817 residences and 76,000 square feet of retail space.


Big changes for Town Center may be coming soon to Columbia. Howard County's Planning Board has approved the inital plan for the Warfield neighborhood adjacent to the .

The Howard Hughes Corp. plans on building 817 residences and 76,000 square feet of retail space on 10 acres of undeveloped land, according to the final development plan submitted to the board.

What do you think of the Howard Hughes proposal? Tell us in comments.

Explore Howard reported the plan also includes a 6,000-square-foot-playground and 28,500 square feet of promenade in the southeast that would connect to the Symphony Overlook neighborhood and .

The plan to develop the large area adjacent to the mall represents Columbia's plans to change the city from an iconic surbubia to a more urban, walkable and bikeable city, according to a blog post on Downtown Columbia.

The company will provide more specifics on the plan soon, according to Howard Hughes Senior Vice President John DeWolf, who was quoted in the Explore Howard article.

JH April 17, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Just say no to more rental apartments! Area has wat too many now. Townhouses will be fine. Lower the density.
Elizabeth April 17, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I say no more 55+ housing! There are too many of those neighborhoods in the County. They are having too much trouble selling those properties. Its discrimination to a huge number of prospective buyers because of this nonsense.
Michaelwritescode April 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I'm guessing you meant in general and I would agree with you on that point but for the record the "residences" proposed for downtown Columbia were cited to be "developed in phases, with those in the first, covering about five acres, offered for rent." http://www.columbiamd.com/2011/11/baltimore-sun-817-unit-housing-development-planned-for-columbia/ The article does go on to mention about 1,000 square feet per apartment so that is at the very least not going to be a boatload of cheap low end housing. I'd expect those apartments to run 1-1.5k a month due in part to being newer than the aging apartment complexes in the area.
Brook Hubbard April 18, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I don't know about you, but 1000 sq. feet and 1-1.5k/month is not high end housing. That's what you get over in Orchard Crossing, and that area has been turning into garbage for a while. Of course, it didn't help that several of the not-so-secret drug dealers (and users) were there on Section 8 housing slips. So, although I don't particularly want downtown apartments, if they don't accept Housing Assistance programs, then it'd be more acceptable.
Matt Wilson April 18, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I kind of doubt that HHC would be shelling out all this money to build Section 8 housing.
Socrates April 18, 2012 at 01:58 AM
From the map shown, it appears the develpment would remove some of the Mall parking - is that correct?
JH April 18, 2012 at 12:09 PM
These are indeed cheap rental apartments. Of course the developer will call them something else. They don't pay their own way ---- lots of county services and expenses associated with apartments and too little taxes generated. Just say no to cheap apartments and the problems they bring to the area.
Brook Hubbard April 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I seriously hope not. The Mall already has parking issues. In addition, part of this "Warfield" area also contains the AMC Theater, Cheesecake Factory, and some sort of office building at the top. Unless they plan on tearing down some key buildings (I know the AMC is the best theater in the area), then they're stuck developing parking lots and the large grassy areas nearby.
BOH April 18, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I would hope not, but depending on rental market rates, they might reach the same unfortunate conclusion so many apartment communities in Columbia have reached, which is that rent in the form of section 8 dollars is the same as from occupants' dollars. I don't mean to say that section 8 can't be a good program, because it can, and many occupants actually use the program graciously and peacefully. Others use it as a free place to set up some illicit business, often drugs, so they can spend their under-the-table money on gaudy vehicles and clothes instead. The problem is this: VOUCHER PAYMENT STANDARDS EFF 1-BR 2-BR 3-BR 4-BR 5-BR COLUMBIA (01/01/11) 1325 1377 1582 2150 2504 2879 NON-COLUMBIA(01/01/11) 1024 1157 1389 1784 2203 2533 http://www.co.ho.md.us/uploadedFiles/Home/Policies_and_Regulations/Housing/Owner%20Handbook%20rev.pdf Howard County is effectively pushing vouchers into Columbia. It's absurd.
BOH April 18, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Cheap for whom? $1582 is more than I'd pay for a 2BR apartment in Columbia, yet that's what the county will pay for vouchers. Even more ridiculous, the $2150 they'll pay for a 3BR is more than the mortgage plus escrow for a lot of single-family homes in Columbia, and definitely more than a lot of hard-working people who don't qualify for section 8 can afford to spend on a house. I'm glad some people get the help they need, but while I'm fairly liberal, I shake my head when I think that the years I've spent getting and paying for an education, working tough and stressful jobs, etc. to establish a career gets me and my two kids a house that costs not much more than a county 3BR free housing voucher, and a vehicle that wouldn't even rank in the top half in value if I parked it in the public housing complexes in Wilde Lake or Harper's Choice.
JH April 18, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Columbia will be the voucher capital of Maryland if the County Executive and Council Chair continue to push these programs ---- another magnet program for people around the nation and world.
Anne April 18, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Town Center apartment complex accepts Sec. 8 vouchers & its rents are not inconsiderable. The theory now in housing is to DISTRIBUTE low income residents throughout the community rather than concentrating them in any one development.
Brook Hubbard April 18, 2012 at 05:03 PM
"The theory now in housing is to DISTRIBUTE low income residents throughout the community rather than concentrating them in any one development." Except, as with most social theories, this proves to be the undoing. All it takes is 1 or 2 undesirables setting up shop in an otherwise nice complex, and people start talking and leaving. As people hear about that complex, the only people willing to take the empty spots are similar to the undesirables already there. In the end, every decent member of that community moves away and the area turns exactly into what the "social planners" were trying to avoid in the first place.
Anne April 18, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Developers are having difficulty selling to the 55+ crowd because Maryland taxes are too high already, retirees can move to warmer climates in states that do not tax retirement income & are more favorable to estates. Finally, have you LOOKED @ the changes in the populace in Columbia over the years? It is not going to be too much longer for this area to resemble inner city Baltimore & DC because mass transit has made it so easy for less savory elements from those cities to visit & to reside in Columbia. No, this is not politically correct, but it is a most unfortunate truth!
edb April 18, 2012 at 08:16 PM
The reason no one is buying these is that they are really expensive for folks on a fixed income (starting at $220,000). People want to downgrade in their older years and taking care of 1600 -1700 sq ft of living space is not what they want. I know this because we are looking for affordable housing for my elderly mother in HoCo and it's hard to come by. We don't want her in a slum, but she can't afford extravagance either. Seems like there is nothing in the middle.
Anne April 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
In addition to Ulman & County Council members pushing for more low income residents to move into Howard County, you also have Social Workers who steer their clients to Howard County & for Brook, I agree with your comment. THAT was my point & I have an advanced degree in Public Administration & ONE of my areas of concentration was "Housing & Community Development".


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