Current Plans for Development of the Crescent Neighborhood in Downtown Columbia

A primary goal for Crescent is to create a sustainable, urban live/work neighborhood overlooking Merriweather-Symphony Woods. This neighborhood will be unique to Downtown Columbia, with tall office and residential towers set on the periphery within new development parcels on the high ground between lower, environmentally-sensitive areas.

One of the neighborhood’s greatest assets is its natural setting with preserved and enhanced woodlands and tributaries to Symphony Stream and Little Patuxent River. And, while the developed areas will be fairly dense, the park setting, the curvilinear roads, and the rolling topography will set Crescent apart from the other Downtown neighborhoods.

A sustainable built environment will be created through the creation of mixed-use development with amenity spaces that allow residents to socialize, work, shop and play; the design of complete streets where residents can walk or bike to destinations or public transit; the design of buildings that are healthy and use natural resources more efficiently; and the creation of a healthy environment with clean water, clean air, and increased connections to the natural environment.

from Crescent Neighborhood Design Guidelines, Howard Hughes Corporation, March 2015

Columbia Arts Center

Orchard Development selected Design Collective to generate an innovative vision for a new performing and visual arts center with multi-family housing above, in Downtown Columbia, Maryland. Aspiring to become central Maryland’s paradigm for a community arts hub, the performing arts center will house Toby’s 350-seat Dinner Theater in-the-round, 2 black-box theaters, dance rooms and a full service restaurant. The visual arts wing will house the Howard County Arts Council which will include galleries, artist-in-residence studios, classrooms and offices.

In collaboration with the Howard County Housing Commission, 210 residential units will sit above the arts uses, concealing a 700-space garage, with a third-level residential amenity program featuring rooftop courtyards that overlook Symphony Woods and Merriweather Post Pavilion. At the confluence of Downtown and the preserved Woods, this merging of arts and residency will add new life and become a community anchor for Columbia.

from Columbia Arts Center, Design Collective

Crescent Neighborhood Gallery

Click on thumbnail for full size image.

Life at the new Hickory Ridge Village Center (circa 2024)

I live in the new Hickory Ridge Village Center that was finally completed in 2022. Locals will remember that Kimco proposed to redevelop the Village Center in 2016 with an initial plan that was roundly criticized for the height and number of apartments being introduced, the parking lot-centric design, the lack of intimacy for the Village Green, and the failure to embrace the future Columbia Association Park. The revised plan attempted to address all these issues, including reducing the size of the apartment building, and was approved in 2018.

Cathy and I were pleased The Apartments at Hickory Ridge Village Center, with all its amenities and high-end finishes, was available after the kids moved out of our single-family home. By moving here from Clary’s Forest neighborhood, we have been able to keep in touch with our friends and pursue a lot of the same activities. Cathy is a Tai Sophia-trained acupuncturist; is able to see her patients in an office here in the Village Center. I work for a nonprofit in Town Center and bike there when I can, traveling mostly on the new Downtown Columbia Trail.

The Apartments at Hickory Ridge Village Center
The Apartments at Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)

Most of our immediate neighbors are professionals. There are some retirees, a doctor at the Hospital and his wife, a Philosophy professor at HCC, a couple who operate a day spa with two kids, a young lady that does animation for a firm, a plumber and his adult son, somebody that works at NSA. Our friends from over Quarterstaff Road are downsizing and moving here next month.

It’s easy to get to know folks here — the apartment has monthly activities that bring people together. I’m a member of the HRVC Merchant and Resident Advisory Council that works with Kimco to make sure this stays a nice Village Center. Cathy and I also play in the monthly bocce league that meets in the new Columbia Association Park at the end of The Avenue. We have players from the Clemens Crossing neighborhood, and some folks from Sunrise and Harmony Hall retirement homes as well.

The new Avenue
The new “Avenue” at Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco), with the Columbia Association Park at the end.

We love being able to walk to all the stores here; thank goodness Decanter Fine Wines agreed to remain in the Center. There are Village concerts and other events in the Columbia Association Park, along with a tot lot, trails, and picnic tables. And it is true bliss to to be able to amble out of our apartment and eat at the new coffee shop, dine at one of our favorite restaurants (including a new Argentinian steak house), or hang out on the Village Green. We’ll meet friends or just come down on a whim.  And among the shops are two places my wife frequents, a new upscale hair salon for women and a yoga studio and apparel shop.

People dismissed the idea when the apartments were proposed, but we hardly ever use our car. The Apartment has its own pool and fitness center. Cathy and I use our bikes even more with the improvements that have been made to the Columbia Trail system. And the increased density in Town Center and a few of the other Village Centers has enabled buses that come through here every hour. A new transit hub in Town Center makes it easy to take advantage of longer distance transportation.

Entrance
Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)

People were skeptical back in 2016 about the impact a 230 unit luxury apartment building would have on our Village Center. From my perspective, it has made the Center more of a focal point for our community of Hickory Ridge. The apartments have brought greater stability to the merchants, has encouraged Giant to improve their store, and has attracted additional retail. The quality of the stores and expanded amenities have been cause for an even greater diversity of people gathering here and making it a part of their lives. Life at the new Hickory Ridge Village Center is everything I could want.

Featured image at top of post

http://www.hickoryridgedevelopment.com/webfiles/documents/2016_0803_HRVC_Community_Meeting.pdf

 

 

Commentary: Change and Renewal in Columbia

Jim Rouse was an idol of mine, growing up in Severna Park. It was such a thrill for this twenty something in the early 1970s to see Columbia for the first time; to visit the Exhibit Center and take in the architecture and open spaces and design of this new city.  And having studied economics and considered Marxist analysis, I was impressed that the Rouse Company, a shareholder-owned corporation that was driven to make money, created this wonderful city. Continue reading Commentary: Change and Renewal in Columbia

Is good design being applied to new Downtown Columbia Development?

The Downtown Columbia Design Guidelines were issued in November 2010 “to ensure that what is built in the Downtown will be attractive, aesthetically coherent, practical and of beauty and value.”  In the last five years, several significant construction projects have been undertaken that were required to comply with this plan. Let’s consider whether the designs have met this standard. Continue reading Is good design being applied to new Downtown Columbia Development?

Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment (post#2)

3D Sketch of Kimco proposal for Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment
3D Sketch of Kimco proposal for Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment (by Jerry Lioi)

This sketch is based on the drawing Kimco has shown the community, mainly to illustrate the relative locations and heights of the buildings. The existing Giant Food store is at the top of the sketch and the proposed 5-story apartment building, including an interior parking deck, to the right. Existing retail stores wrap around the left side of the Giant. New retail stores to replace the existing building are shown in red on the ground floor of the apartment building and the three new buildings surrounding the parking lot. (The Professor)