The second hearing on the Howard Hughes Corporation proposal for Phase 1 of development of the Lakefront Core Neighborhood, is before the Howard County Planning Board on Thursday March 15. Here’s a collection of images and diagrams that illustrate what Hughes is proposing, along with Columbia Association’s preliminary thinking about how the existing Lakefront Plaza might be enhanced. And an analysis of what the development could mean for Columbia.
The Vision for Lakefront Core
As stated in the Downtown-wide Design Guidelines, the vision for the Lakefront Core Neighborhood is to bring community life and activity back to the water’s edge. Lakefront Core should be a lively, walkable neighborhood connected and oriented to Lake Kittamaqundi. New development should be designed to incorporate outdoor corridors to enhance visibility and access to existing amenity spaces.
The Lakefront Core should be revitalized with new development that may include cultural, retail, restaurant, office, residential, and hospitality uses. The Lakefront Core and the surrounding Lakefront Neighborhood are envisioned to be the potential location for new signature building(s), in addition to the existing former Rouse Company Headquarters’ signature building.
The existing Lakefront Plaza amenity space shall retain its identity as an important historic and symbolic gathering place in Columbia. Iconic sculptures such as the People Tree and The Hug are landmarks in the community and should be retained within the Lakefront area. Revitalization of the existing amenity space should include updating and refreshing the existing Plaza to encourage more active use on a daily basis as well as become an improved setting for performances, festivals, and other special events.
More information about PB 435, the Howard Hughes Corporation proposal, is at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/Boards-and-Commissions/Planning-Board.
The hearing on March 15 begins at 7pm and will be live-streamed at https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Online-Tools/Watch-Us.
Urbanizing the Town Center of Columbia, Maryland [Excerpts]
by Will Macht (Urbanland Magazine) March 12, 2018
As a city planned to have a town center with a broad mix of retail, office, hotel, entertainment, educational, cultural, and civic uses within its central zone, Columbia is different from many suburbs. But the planning decisions—to forswear a rectilinear street grid, to break up the downtown with multilane parkways, to concentrate the retail heart in an enclosed mall, to have a paucity of urban housing, and to build at an automobile-centered, set-back building scale—present Columbia with challenges common to many suburbs seeking urban retrofits. The mall, lakefront, and pavilion remain physically and functionally separated.
From Columbia’s inception, the ten-story American City Building, an office structure located at the lakefront and flanked by restaurants, a hotel, a cinema, and a shared parking lot, signaled that a mixture of uses would be sought reasonably near each other, unlike in typical suburban centers at the time. However, the only pedestrian link between the downtown civic and economic centers is a slender pedestrian bridge that starts at the American City Building, traverses the six-lane Little Patuxent Parkway, and climbs the elevation rise to link to a path that goes around another office building, then crosses the inner-ring road to reach a tertiary mall entrance.
HHC’s decision to buy the American City Building opposite the mall only to demolish and replace it with larger-scale urban mixed-use projects substantiates the company’s strategy to intensify lakefront development. And because GGP, not HHC, owns the mall, HHC’s strategy is to create vibrant new urban cores on the southern and eastern flanks of the retail core, then link those back to that core.
From a development perspective, creating and controlling new urban cores on open land is more productive than trying to overcome the physical, legal, and financial challenges of developing on more restrictive properties. Moreover, those intermediate properties will become more valuable later when alternative cores flank them, which will make it easier economically to develop them in later phases.