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Planning Board Scheduled to Vote on Plans for Mall and Symphony Woods

The Final Development Plans for the development of the Mall in Columbia and Symphony Woods come before the board on Thursday.

Update 1:30 p.m. - This article was updated to reflect new information on what will happen with the parking at the mall near the development.

The Final Development Plans for projects to alter the Mall in Columbia and Symphony Woods are scheduled to be voted on by the Howard County Planning Board on Thursday evening.

The plan for the mall calls for the removal of 31,500 square feet of existing retail in the area of Nordstrom, L.L. Bean, Sears and J.C. Penny. The space would then undergo an addition of 75,000 square feet of proposed retail and restaurant space, according to the plan.

General Growth Properties, the mall developer, gave a public presentation on its plans to develop the mall back in February. Representatives said the proposed 75,000 square-feet development would replace L.L Bean and either replace or make changes to the parking lots between the movie theater and Nordstrom, according to an article in Explore Howard.

Mike Davis, an attorney for GGP, said the planned addition would remove 63 parking spots in a lot behind L.L Bean, but most of the parking in the area would remain untouched.

In documents provided online, the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning recommended the approval of the development, but details of what would take shape at the mall were not included. However, the department wrote that the proposal met all the guidelines of the Downtown Columbia Plan, which is a 30-year plan to sustainably develop a large part of Town Center, the neighborhood that includes the mall and lakefront.

"The proposed expansion is an opportunity for us to bring in new retailers that will satisfy and exceed our shoppers's expectations," wrote Kate Essing, the general manager of the Mall in Columbia, in an email. "In addition, working within Columbia’s approved Master Plan and as a leading community partner, we strive to make the Mall more pedestrian friendly by connecting the center to the Lakefront area."

As for Symphony Woods, the Final Development Plan (FDP) states future improvements would include a network of pathways, a fountain, a pavilion, an amphitheater, a café, a play activity area, a woodland garden area and a new parking area.

Those improvements would be placed in the northern half of Symphony Woods, in the area along Little Patuxent Parkway, according to the FDP. The Columbia Association is of Symphony Woods.

The area south of would remain mostly natural and would be dedicated to environmental restoration projects, a multi-use path, and other passive uses, according to the FDP.

Kimberley Flowers, a spokesperson for the department of planning and zoning, said getting the final development plan approved is necessary for the developers to begin creating site plans for the developments. Site plans would include more information as to what specific features would be added to the developments, said Flowers.

The meeting is scheduled for July 12 at 7 p.m. in the Banneker Room at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.

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