Check out the renovations at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Merriweather Post Pavilion (MPP) in Columbia, MD is in the midst of a $55 million renovation. If you haven’t visited for awhile, you’re in for a treat. The renovations are geared to enhancing the fan experience and providing appealing amenities to the performers in order to attract top talent. MPP celebrated it’s 50th anniversary in 2017 so the facility was due for some upgrades. 

The renovations are being coordinated by the nonprofit Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, which took over ownership of  Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2016. One of the first acts of the new leadership was to sign a new 40-year contract in 2017 with DC-headquartered I.M.P. to operate MPP.  The Commission hopes to supplement the traditional rock concerts at MPP with other artistic and cultural activities.

Ian Kennedy, Executive Director of the Commission, recently gave me a tour of the renovation work in progress. Here are some pictures for a glimpse of the new Merriweather Post Pavilion.

(Click on any image to begin the slide show.)

All photos are by Harry Schwarz, unless otherwise indicated.

Ellicott City Flood and Flooding [An update from 2016]

As we attend to the immediate needs of the residents and businesses affected by this week’s flood in Ellicott City, people are asking “Why does this keep happening and what can be done to prevent it?” I attempted to address this question with a blogpost from August 3, 2016 following the last major storm.  

Much planning has been done in the last two years and several major projects are being implemented. The basic issues remain. We’re going to have to consider now whether these last two storms represent a new normal and whether the plans are sufficient. As always, it’s a judgement about the extent that we’re going to battle mother nature or adjust to her ways. 

Ellicott City – The Great Floods

Lower Ellicott City had been prone to flooding since it was founded. There has been at least four different major floods in recorded history in Downtown Ellicott City. So what makes it so prone?

First of all, Ellicott City sits at the confluence of the Tiber and Patapsco Rivers. This in itself moves a lot of water. Another issue is that Ellicott City sits in a shallow valley, with many of the expanding buildings and homes having to be build literally over the Tiber river. This makes water from almost all directions converge in the valley to the Tiber River before being emptied in the Patapsco. And this isn’t even the biggest issue.

Modified
Tiber River watershed, adapted from Google Maps

Continue reading Ellicott City Flood and Flooding [An update from 2016]

The future of the Columbia Flier Building is uncertain

The Columbia Flier Building is iconic in Columbia, for its unique design by architect Bob Moon, and as the home of the Columbia Flier and Howard County Times for 33 years. Located on Little Patuxent Parkway just down from Howard Community College, the building went on sale in 2012.

With its open floor plans and zoned work areas, some considered it a perfect site for the Howard County Nonprofit Center being planned at the time. Instead, Howard County purchased the building in 2014 during the Ulman administration for the future home of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, an initiative of the Howard County Economic Development Authority.

County Executive Kittleman nixed the plan shortly after he was elected in 2015, finding that renovations would cost approximately $7.2 million, almost three times the purchase price. The property has now been identified as a potential site for construction of affordable housing.

Here’s a close-up look at the building, and a glimpse at its history.

Former Columbia Flier Building for Sale [Excerpt]

by Sara Toth (Columbia Flier), July 13, 2012

Main Entrance, Columbia Flier Building (Cushman & Wakefield)

The building, which housed the Columbia Flier and its parent company, Patuxent Publishing, until 2011, opened in 1978 after two years of planning and construction. The Baltimore Sun Co. which is now owned by Tribune Co., purchased Patuxent and the Flier building in 1997. The building has been vacant since February 2011, when the Columbia Flier and its sister publication, the Howard County Times, moved to a suite of offices on Sterrett Place, in Columbia.

Earlier this week, Columbia architect Bob Moon, husband of the newspaper’s then-managing editor Jean Moon, said he designed the iconic building with a vision of youth. Continue reading The future of the Columbia Flier Building is uncertain

The Howard County Bikeway needs your support

Howard County has developed a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, called Bike Howard, and “the Bikeway” has been identified as the top priority for jump-starting the project. But funding to implement the Plan has been minimal and suggests a serious lack of commitment to encouraging bicycle travel in the County. Here’s what you need to know about Bike Howard and the Bikeway. At the end of this post, there’s a link to tell County Executive Kittleman and the County Council of your support for the Plan.  

Howard County Bicycle Master Plan

In April of 2016, Howard County adopted its first Bicycle Master Plan. The Bicycle Master Plan provides guidance for both transportation and recreational bicycling, both on-street and off-street. Recommendations are provided in the general areas of infrastructure improvements, policy and programs.

Goals and objectives are:

  • Identify and develop countywide system of bicycle facilities to foster connectivity within and between the following: villages, communities and neighborhoods throughout the County, as well as neighboring cities and counties, parks and recreation centers, schools and educational institutions, commercial and employment centers, and regional and local transit facilities.

Continue reading The Howard County Bikeway needs your support

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. Continue reading We need to revitalize the Hickory Ridge Village Center, now