The Toby and Hal Orenstein Cultural Arts Center, coming soon to downtown Columbia, MD

On March 1st, 2018 the Howard County Planning Board unanimously approved the site development plan for construction of a New Cultural Center in Downtown Columbia. I’m jumping ahead a bit to be naming it after Toby and Hal Orenstein. She, of course, is the founder of Toby’s Dinner Theatre, the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA), and has been a seminal figure in the Columbia arts scene for 45 years. What other name could we possibly give this center that will be the new home for Toby’s and CCTA, other performance spaces, and has been a dream of Toby and Hal’s for decades?

Meet Toby

Since 1979 Toby Orenstein has been the Artistic Director and owner of Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, MD.

Toby is also the Founder and Director of the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, Inc. (CCTA). In 1972, at the invitation of visionary developer James Rouse, she created a school for young people who possessed an interest in the performing arts. A special group of those students, The Young Columbians, were invited to the White House and performed a musical tribute to America during the Bicentennial Year (1976). The Young Columbians still perform today at special programs all over Maryland.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Toby attended New York’s famous High School of Performing Arts and graduated from Columbia University with a split degree in education and theatre. Toby received early inspiration from her work on Eleanor Roosevelt’s All Day Neighborhood School Project, a program designed to motivate and stimulate disaffected, under-privileged, inner-city youth to learn through the arts. She continues to work with students, parents and educators to “inspire with action, creativity and change through the arts.”

Over the years, as a respected leader and advocate for children and the arts, Toby has been regarded as the matriarch of the performing arts in Howard County and all of Maryland receiving countless honors. Among these are Columbian of the Year, Arts Advocate of the Year, Outstanding Woman in the Arts (MD State Department of Education) and is a Helen Hayes Award winner for Outstanding Direction in a Musical for her production of Jekyll and Hyde at Toby’s Dinner Theatre.

She was also selected as a Marylander of Distinction by Maryland Life magazine and was inducted into both Howard County and the State of Maryland’s Woman’s Hall of Fame. Recently she was honored by the Howard County Commission on Disabilities with the Leadership Award for Accessibility.

In operation for 38 years, over 200 productions with over 90 Helen Hayes Award nominations, Toby has so much to be proud of and thankful for but nothing more so then her husband, two children and four grandchildren.

http://tobysdinnertheatre.com/about-us/meet-toby/

Proposed multi-purpose arts center envisioned as ‘crown jewel’ of Columbia [Excerpts]

by Fatimah Waseem (Columbia Flier) July 27, 2016

The New Cultural Arts Center, from Symphony Woods Road (Design Collective).

A plan to grow the arts on nearly three acres of downtown Columbia is underway as the town chases a vision of becoming a vibrant, urban core.

The concept proposed by Orchard Development Corp. would create the county’s first cultural arts center — a $130 million facility that integrates art organizations under one roof, caters affordable housing to artists and creates a year-round laboratory for artists and art lovers alike.

Aerial Site Plan, Crescent Neighborhood (Design Collective), showing full build-out.  The proposed Cultural Arts Center, where Toby’s Dinner Theater is currently located, is highlighted in red, facing a new North-South road, Symphony Woods Road.

“This is something that has been a long time coming and will be sort of a crown jewel for downtown Columbia,” said Scott Armiger, president of Orchard Development Corp. “It’s a gateway spot into Columbia or will be when the Crescent [neighborhood] gets developed.”

As proposed, the center would relocate Toby’s Dinner Theatre, the Howard County Arts Council, the Columbia Festival of the Arts and the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts. The center, proposed in the Crescent neighborhood, would include a parking garage, a visual arts center, a performing arts space, black box theaters, studios and a cafe.

The proposed Cultural Arts Center, view from Symphony Woods looking East (Design Collective).

The proposal fills a gaping void in the arts community, said Toby Orenstein, owner of Toby’s Dinner Theatre and founder of the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts. “I have three buckets full of plans for centers or for buildings that I was going to use. They’re all in my house,” Orenstein said. “This is the furthest we’ve gotten with this dream. And these are hopes and dreams that have been around for ever and ever and ever.”

Orenstein has run Toby’s for 35 years. Under the proposal, the theater will join other organizations as a tenant in the center.

Site plan for proposed Cultural Arts Center (Design Collective).

Artist flats geared for artists who may be part of the center are included in the proposal.

The plans for housing, part of a proposed binding agreement with Columbia’s master developer, Howard Hughes Corp., create 209 [192 in the approved plan] one- and two-bedroom apartments atop the cultural arts center, around 100 of which would be affordable by targeting people who earn about half of the county’s median income of $110,133.

“The plan is to make Columbia a vibrant arts district. The arts are a symbol of that urban lifestyle,” West [Coleen West, Executive Director, Howard County Arts Council] said.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/columbia/ph-ho-cf-downtown-arts-center-0728-20160726-story.html

Comments?

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Development proposed for Columbia Lakefront advances the Downtown Plan

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.

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=flwXUtYHF7U%3d&portalid=0

This chart illustrates the subject area of Phase 1 showing proposed buildings, active frontage, and new street alignment. The American City Building is replaced by a “Downtown Neighborhood Square” adjacent to existing and proposed amenity spaces shown. Parking is included within the new buildings.

 

 

Proposed maximum building heights for sectors in the Lakefront Core Neighborhood.

 

The existing Lakefront Plaza (B) is outlined, under the jurisdiction of the Columbia Association.

 

The Howard Hughes Corporation proposes replacing the American City Building with a “Downtown Neighborhood Square”, and shows a proposed Veterans Monument (C).

 

This chart, from concept designs developed for the Columbia Association, illustrate what the combined amenity spaces might look like.

 

This chart, from concept designs developed for the Columbia Association, illustrate what the combined amenity spaces might look like.

 

This chart, from concept designs developed for the Columbia Association, illustrate a possible enhancement of the Dock area.

 

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.

https://urbanland.uli.org/development-business/urbanizing-town-center-columbia-maryland/?utm_source=realmagnet&utm_medium=email

We need to revitalize the Hickory Ridge Village Center, now

Kimco presented their plans for the revitalization of the Hickory Ridge Village Center to the Howard County Planning Board on January 4, 2018.  Many Hickory Ridge residents, including long-time denizens, support Kimco’s proposal.  The Village Board and most citizens that testified at the hearing oppose it. But the issues raised by the proponents are central to the future of Hickory Ridge, Columbia, and Howard County. To further the conversation, following are excerpts from the testimony of  several supporters who testified at Thursday’s hearing.

Eric Stein, Hickory Ridge

Owner, Decanter Fine Wines, Hickory Ridge Village Center

I am in favor of the plan, because I believe the Hickory Ridge Village Center is failing.  When the Giant opened in 1992, it was advertised as a gourmet Giant. It isn’t. Not today, and hasn’t been for many years.  Today, we have 4 empty bays in the center representing 65% of 1 building, and likely more to come.  Contrary to belief, Kimco, the landlord, hasn’t forced these businesses to leave.  They have left for many reasons, but they will not be replaced until a decision is made on our future, and we’re suffering. Once this plan is approved, we will still have several years of an under-performing center.

Do we remain an outdated design where the merchants face inward and can’t be seen, or do we accept one that gives us a chance to compete with contemporary concepts.  The apartments are not an option, but a necessity.  You can’t do anything without people, and those that have left the center aren’t coming back.  At least not until we offer them an array of businesses that appeal to a newer audience as Columbia’s growth continues.

George Clack, Clemens Crossing

Hickory Ridge resident since 1984; Spokesperson, Citizens In favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC)

In my view the Community Response Statement (CRS) shows a serious lack of leadership and vision on the part of the Village Board. The Village Board claims in the CRS to reflect the views of Hickory Ridge residents, but I do not find my views or those of my fellow CIVCC members represented in the document. The Village Board appears to have listened only to the quite vocal and highly predictable responses of the NIMBY’s of Hickory Ridge. The resulting CRS is far from a balanced, credible report; it nitpicks every possible detail to make what sounds like a lawyer’s brief against Kimco’s plan.

In brief, I care far more about having a viable village center 10 years down the road than I care about the height of any building at that center. Over the years we’ve seen Columbia village centers at Long Reach, Wilde Lake, and Oakland Mills turn into near ghost towns because their grocery-store anchors were no longer competitive.  And, in recent years, with the addition of Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, and Whole Foods, the grocery-store environment in Columbia has become much more competitive. Kimco’s basic argument – that the Hickory Ridge Giant needs a “captive audience” of apartment dwellers nearby to provide a sustainable base of customers – makes sense to me.

In summary, I am deeply disappointed in the Village Board’s CRS and the Board’s inability to see the virtues in a $30 million private-sector offer to redevelop a village center that could use help right now. Much experience elsewhere in Columbia and the country as a whole has shown that maintaining the human scale of a small-village retail center nowadays requires mixed-use development and that means apartments nearby.

Jerry Weinstein, Hawthorne

Resident of Columbia for over 40 years

I applaud Kimco for thinking long term in their desire to maintain Hickory Ridge Village Center as a dynamic, viable establishment.  While the VC certainly functions well now, it’s clear that trends in retailing and residential rentals have been and are changing.

Kimco deserves credit for trying to say ahead of the trends instead of being left behind. Given that Kimco is a publicly-traded corporation, with concomitant fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders, any decision on Kimco’s part to invest substantial sums of money into an updated Village Center must make sense economically.

More retail space, combined with more residential presence, can only benefit the community. On the assumption that the county takes adequate consideration of infrastructure needs, the net result will inevitably be an increase in property values. And that means a more desirable community in which we live.

Harry Schwarz, Clary’s Forest

Blogger, HoCoMD.cc

I support the Kimco proposal.  The people opposed to it want to keep things as they are, without acknowledging the changing world that we must grow into.  The County is expected to grow by 14% between 2010 and 2035, an increase of about 40,000 people.  We can create more suburban sprawl, eat up more of our open spaces, build more highways, and ignore environmental impacts, or we can implement smart growth and meet the challenge of more people by accommodating them in an ecologically sound way. I like to think that we are forward looking people in Howard County.

Increased densities in appropriate locations throughout Columbia, such as the Crescent and the Village Centers, is smart growth for Hickory Ridge, for Columbia, and for Howard County as a whole.  Kimco’s proposal helps assure the continued viability of our community. It improves the fiscal health of the County by reducing the need to duplicate infrastructure elsewhere.  Putting housing on land that currently serves as a parking lot helps reduce our consumption of land elsewhere and allows us to protect valuable open space, farmland, and habitat.  Expanded transportation options become possible with higher ridership.

Columbia has always been a model of smart growth.  From the beginning, it has been committed to creating “complete neighborhoods” by integrating multiple uses within close walking distance in order to accommodate people’s varying needs.  By increasing the density of neighborhoods, Columbia retained more of our land for open space.  Mixed land use and varying density are the cornerstones of smart growth.  Kimco is offering a great place to live, with all the amenities we are used to, and the option to walk, drive or ride transit. Kimco’s proposal serves the interests of Columbia and Howard County for smart growth.

Susan Clack, Clemens Crossing

Howard County resident for 54 years; 34 in Clemens Crossing

I wholeheartedly support Kimco’s plan to redevelop the Village Center. I am in favor of progress, and I’m delighted we are fortunate enough to have an experienced national developer anxious to invest $30 million dollars to improve our center. Quite frankly seeing the center revitalized before it’s on its last legs is in my best interest as a property owner.

Having initially attended Kimco’s community outreach meetings about their plans for the Center, I was appalled by a few, but very vocal, residents’ objection to apartment dwellers. Several residents made statements such as “Apartment dwellers do not share our values.” My jaw dropped and I could hardly believe what I was hearing. This wasn’t the inclusiveness embraced by the Columbia I moved to 43 years ago.

What I witnessed was Kimco’s continued graciousness while a few residents spewed hate and personal animosity. Kimco listened and responded to residents who had more rational requests and modified plans accordingly. We’ll get a much more attractive center.

Jonathan Wilson, Cedar Acres

I wish to voice my support for diversity of housing and more housing choice.  It makes us a more inclusive community.  In 1986, the developers of Columbia were planning the new Village of River Hill.  The developers brought forward to the County Zoning Board a proposal to zone roughly 90 acres of land near what would be the River Hill Village Center as non-single family detached housing.

The existing community members pushed back stating this was not the vision of River Hill; it was just supposed to be single family homes.  The Zoning Board largely accepted the arguments of the community and approved only 33 acres for non-single family housing.  Today, this land is now condominiums and townhomes. There are no apartment buildings in River Hill.  Members of our community now question why River Hill is so exclusive.

No one really knows what the economic makeup will be of the proposed rental apartments at the Village Center. On paper, these will be luxury, high end units.  Maybe they won’t bring more economic diversity to our community.  But they will bring opportunity for people who don’t have money for a down payment in our high cost community. Rental units offer choice and the prospect for more diversity of income levels. I believe there are many people in our community who would view this as a good thing.

Ellen Levin, Clemens Crossing

Resident of Clemens Crossing for 30 years

I love living where I do. And I love the Village Center. It is wonderful having an excellent grocery store nearby as well as some necessary and enjoyable small businesses.  Before too long it looks like we may have a new look to our Village Center. We may have additional small businesses. And we may have high end apartments, new places for people to live.

Different people have different housing needs and preferences. A young professional couple may not need or want a house with many rooms to clean and care for. An empty nester couple may be looking to downsize, to make their lives simpler.  One day those of us who live in townhomes or single family homes may want to join them.

Change is hard.  We are not used to having an apartment building in our midst. So we don’t know what to expect or how these apartments and their occupants will affect us. But I do know that Columbia has always prided itself on being a welcoming place to live, a welcoming place to all. Let’s welcome our new neighbors and discover some additional businesses while we continue to support the businesses we have always loved.

Steve Sternheimer, Hawthorne

37-year Columbia resident; Officer in home owners’ association of 18 homes

I was a member of the subcommittee that discussed/drafted the Hickory Ridge Village Center Community Plan, 2009-2011, so I feel qualified to speak about the concerns and intentions of the subcommittee and put the Village Community Plan in context.

The starting point was to ensure a thriving retail center for the decade to come. The “threat” seen by those on the subcommittee was not too many residents in the Village Center, but empty space in spread-out and mostly vacant parking lots; incursion by fast food & convenience stores in pads in the same area; and possible competing retail development in vacant land across Freetown and Cedar.  Discussion in the subcommittee and subsequent comments on drafts by residents included many who did not oppose a Kimco-type plan with increased on-site housing density.

Comments in the published Plan favored offices & residential structures in the Center, up to 5 stories, with a priority on more foot traffic for merchants. The Subcommittee’s discussions re: the height of buildings in the Center were nowhere definitive nor result of  modeling but a sense that the highest roof gable of Sunrise Assisted Living (about 4 stories) might be a standard.

And Finally . . . . 

Please share your comments on HoCoMDcc’s facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Hocomdcc/

For more information about the revitalization of the Village Center, see HoCoMdcc’s previous posts at https://hocomd.cc/category/hickory-ridge/ or the  Hickory Ridge Community Association, https://hickoryridgevillage.org/village-center-redevelopment/.

All images in this post are from Kimco’s presentation to the Planning Board January 4, 2018.

 

Latest plans for development of Merriweather District

The Howard Hughes Corporation shared additional renderings of the proposed development of Merriweather District (the Crescent) in downtown Columbia to the Howard County Planning Board on November 17, 2017. Simultaneously, they announced that the headquarters of the international cybersecurity company Tenable would be relocating there.

A look at these images and stories gives us a glimpse of what the Merriweather District is becoming.

View of Merriweather District full build-out looking East West: The three new buildings in Area 1, including the MedStar Building, is near the upper right. The Hickory Ridge Road entrance off of Broken Land Parkway is at the “Area 3” label of the yellow box. The Chrysalis is in the foreground.
View of Area 3 looking North, proposed Phase 1 development: Tenable Building is labeled Office A1 and includes a restaurant; Building B includes 382 dwelling units, 556 parking spaces, and restaurant/retail on the ground floor; Parking Garage includes 1,349 parking spaces; Buildings E2 and E3 are for restaurants.
Closeup View of Area 3 looking South: proposed Tenable building is front left (Howard Hughes Corporation)
View of Area 3 looking South from Merriweather Post Pavilion: The proposed Tenable Building is front left (Howard Hughes Corporation) [image updated 12/12/17]
View of Area 3 looking East, full build-out; Building B apartment is center right overlooking the plaza, E2 restaurant building is in the foreground, and E3 restaurant building at other end of the plaza.

http://www.howardhughes.com/properties/downtown-columbia

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/Boards-and-Commissions/Planning-Board

Tenable to relocate to new building in downtown Columbia [EXCERPTS]

by Meredith Cohn and Christopher Dinsmore (The Baltimore Sun) November 17, 2017

Tenable, the fast-growing cybersecurity company based in a Columbia office park, plans to relocate its headquarters to an urban-style campus in downtown Columbia [Merriweather District] and add hundreds of employees in the next few years.

View looking West : A rendering of the proposed headquarters for the cybersecurity company Tenable in downtown Columbia, with Parking Garage on the right (Baltimore Sun)

The Howard Hughes Corp. has pitched the area  to Amazon for its highly prized second headquarters. Tenable plans to occupy the top six floors, or 150,000 square feet, of a 12-story building on the so-called Crescent property.

Tenable’s relocation and expansion will be a key piece for Howard County as it works with Howard Hughes to establish an urban-style downtown and redevelop the area around The Mall in Columbia.

The Merriweather District, where the Tenable building will rise, is planned to include 2,300 residences, a 250-room hotel, over 1.5 million square feet of office space and 314,000 square feet of retail with a central park.

It’s designed to appeal to the “creative class,” such as cyber workers and other high-tech workers, said John DeWolf, Howard Hughes’s executive vice president.

“The redevelopment of downtown Columbia is a transformative development for our state, creating a true urban core in the heart of the celebrated suburban area, nestled between the city of Baltimore and the nation’s capital,” Hogan said.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-tenable-columbia-20171117-story.html

About Tenable

Tenable™, Inc. is the Cyber Exposure company. Over 23,000 organizations of all sizes around the globe rely on Tenable to manage and measure their modern attack surface to accurately understand and reduce cyber risk. As the creator of Nessus®, Tenable built its platform from the ground up to deeply understand assets, networks and vulnerabilities, extending this knowledge and expertise into Tenable.io™ to deliver the world’s first platform to provide live visibility into any asset on any computing platform. Tenable customers include more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500, large government agencies and mid-sized organizations across the private and public sectors.

https://www.tenable.com/about-tenable/about-us

Additional images of Merriweather District plans

https://hocomd.cc/2016/09/20/current-plans-for-development-of-the-crescent-neighborhood-in-downtown-columbia/

Does Columbia still believe in Affordable Housing?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development states that housing is affordable if it costs no more than 30% of family income. Affordable housing for all economic groups is a bedrock principal in Columbia. Nonetheless, the three newest apartments in Columbia – – Alta Wilde Lake, The Metropolitan, and Lakehouse (Little Patuxent Square) — are all Class A or “luxury” apartments. This is evident by the ways the apartments describe themselves, and it’s easy to see by their starting rents that they are unaffordable to the secretaries, sales associates, builders, maintenance workers, cooks and waiters that make it all happen. 

The Downtown Columbia Plan anticipates construction of 6,250 residential units that will be priced however the market will bear. The February agreement by the County and Howard Hughes Corporation requires there be 900 affordable apartments built downtown, but advocates say only about 500 units will create new family opportunities; 400 units duplicate what is already available in other Columbia Villages. And we’re further increasing the stock of high-rent apartments with Kimco’s proposal of “luxury” apartments at Hickory Ridge Village Center. Continue reading Does Columbia still believe in Affordable Housing?

Columbia Lakefront Design Guidelines being considered by Design Advisory Panel

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. 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.

One of the objectives for the development of Downtown Columbia is to create a vibrant, walkable, and economically sustainable community in which to live, work, and play, by creating dense and compact mixed-use neighborhoods. A
sustainable neighborhood should create an urban ecology through an integrated green infrastructure network that includes trees, vegetation, and amenity spaces.

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=hLLFe9LkP84%3d&portalid=0&timestamp=1496683188759

Design Advisory Panel

by Russ Swatek, Howard County Citizens Association

The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) is meeting in the Ellicott Room on Wednesday June 14, 2017 7pm at the County offices to address the Howard Hughes Corp (HHC) newly proposed Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

Passing these proposed Guidelines past the DAP is just the first part of their journey to the Planning Board and on up the chain to eventual approval/ disapproval. The DAP recommendation of approval/disapproval will go along with it and be considered by future entities in their deliberations of the proposal.

  1. These proposed Guidelines are intended to be a total replacement of the existing Columbia Downtown wide Design Guidelines for the Lakefront Core Neighborhood.
  2. The footprint of the Lakefront Core Neighborhood is proposed to be expanded to include the current American City building with its parking lot and the Copeland restaurant/parking structure areas.
  3. The maximum allowable building heights for the additional areas proposed to be included in the Neighborhood are to be raised from 9 stories to 15 stories. This new area is on the east side of Little Patuxent Parkway.
  4. The Wincopin Circle street is proposed to be extended southward from its current location to run between the current American City building with its parking lot and the Hug Statue / Columbia Association Lake Kittamaqundi amphitheater area and then on past Whole Foods.

 

Plans for Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood

The Lakefront Core Neighborhood, surrounded by the larger Lakefront Neighborhood, is located between Lake Kittamaquandi and Little Patuxent Parkway and is bounded by Wincopin Circle to the north and the access drive to
Whole Foods/ former Rouse Company Headquarters to the south.

 

Lakefront Core Neighborhood – Connectivity

The Lakefront area has been isolated from other areas of Downtown Columbia due to the design of Little Patuxent Parkway and topography. The Downtown Columbia Plan proposes three new amenity space corridors extending east
to west that will enhance connectivity between the lake and other downtown destinations.

Lakefront Core Neighborhood Active Frontage Plan

As described in the Downtown Columbia Design Guidelines, Lakefront Core is envisioned as a lively, walkable neighborhood connected and oriented to Lake Kittamaqundi where residences, offices, shops and restaurants as well as entertainment, civic, and cultural uses are all integrated.

Lakefront Core Neighborhood Building Height Plan

In character with this vision, buildings range from 1 to 15 stories in height with shared parking facilities and parking facilities integrated either wholly or partially within individual buildings.

Amenity Space, Downtown Columbia

Open spaces, such as plazas, promenades, and greens, are incorporated within the neighborhood, providing connections back to other Downtown destinations and views to the lake. Natural areas flank and buffer the lake, providing trails and shared-use paths that connect to a larger pedestrian and bicycle network.

More info and share your opinion

by Russ Swatek, Howard County Citizens Association

The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) is meeting in the Ellicott Room on Wednesday June 14, 2017 7pm at the County offices to address the Howard Hughes Corp (HHC) newly proposed Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

The newly proposed Design Guidelines are at:

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=hLLFe9LkP84%3d&portalid=0%C3%97tamp=1496683188759

The DAP agenda can be found at:

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/Boards-and-Commissions/Design-Advisory-Panel#

If you have any thoughts about these proposals, then please submit them to the DAP.  The DAP does not take public testimony at their meetings, but written input can be provided in advance of their meetings by using their web input form at:

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/Boards-and-Commissions/Design-Advisory-Panel/Submit-Comments-Form

or by emailing your comments to: dap@howardcountymd.gov

Note that any comments should be there before Tuesday night so the DAP members have a chance to read them prior to their meeting.

The BRT is coming to US29 in Montgomery County. Should Howard County be next?

Howard County has few transportation options for people traveling into DC. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) may be a relatively inexpensive option.

Montgomery’s bet on an ambitious Bus Rapid Transit system hinges on Route 29

By Luz Lazo (Washington Post), May 13, 2017 – ABRIDGED

Montgomery County’s years-long plan to build a 14-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line on one of Maryland’s busiest commuter corridors appears to finally be moving from idea to reality.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who has championed BRT as the county’s next major transit undertaking, included $21.5 million for the project in his capital budget. A County Council committee earlier this month signaled its support for the BRT project, voting to send the plan to the full council for approval of funding for the design phase, putting the project one step away from construction — and closer to a 2020 opening.

The plan as it stands would put buses on shoulder lanes for a portion of the route, but also in regular traffic. This decision, which sacrificed earlier plans to have a reversible HOV lane in the southern portion of the route, cut capital costs by more than half to $31.5 million. Officials say the money will pay for new stations, buses, and new bike and pedestrian infrastructure. The county’s portion will be matched with a $10 million federal grant.

For the complete article, go to:  https://is.gd/cgXjJC

What is Bus Rapid Transit?

by Institute for Transportation and Development Policy – ABRIDGED

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a high-quality bus-based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable, and cost-effective services at metro-level capacities. It does this Continue reading The BRT is coming to US29 in Montgomery County. Should Howard County be next?