At last, Downtown Columbia nears construction
The Charter-award-winning project is designed to transform a mall and realize the dream of late James Rouse.
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The late developer James Rouse’s idea of creating an urban center in Columbia, Maryland, may begin to be realized soon — nearly five decades after his town was planned — with the construction of 380 apartments plus ground-floor retail and a public promenade.
A 5- to 6-story building is expected to be underway in early 2013 for the first phase of providing the 1960s “new town” with an urban downtown. Kettler of McLean, Virginia, is the building developer, Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) the master developer, and the architect and urban designer is Design Collective of Baltimore.
Downtown Columbia, which now consists mostly of a large enclosed mall, is slated to receive up to 13 million square feet of new development. “That includes 5,500 residential units, 5 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail and 640 hotel rooms,” says the Washington Business Journal.
Rouse’s dream of an urban center was thwarted by zoning that allowed only commercial development in the heart of the sprawling suburb of 100,000 people, located about 12 miles from Baltimore and 40 miles from DC. In 2005 a charrette sponsored by then-owner Rouse Company (HHC was a subsidiary) arrived at the current plan, which