Welcome to Downtown Columbia, the region’s new hub for culture and commerce. Columbia is consistently rated among the best cities in the nation to live. Situated between two great cities, it’s close enough to Baltimore and Washington, yet far away enough to have its own bold expression. The dynamic transformation of Downtown includes corporate headquarters and new businesses that are thriving and attracted to the increasing amenities for their employees. With a variety of retail, restaurants, and entertainment venues, Columbia also has access to some of the best schools and library system in the country, providing an ideal environment for individuals and families to thrive.
The heart of Downtown will be the Merriweather District. This new amenity-rich and walkable urban center is underway surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion and Symphony Woods. It will be a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use environment including offices, shops, restaurants, apartments, structured parking and parkland. We are creating a place where minds are open, creativity is unleashed and new ideas take shape. To accelerate business. To promote progress. To build a better tomorrow.
The Downtown Columbia project is currently focused on the Merriweather District, a 68-acre, half-moon shaped piece of property cradling Merriweather Post Pavilion and Symphony Woods. It is bounded by Route 29 to the east, Broken Land Parkway to the west and Little Patuxent Parkway to the north.
The Merriweather District is distinguished by its proximity to a renovated, state-of-the-art Merriweather Post Pavilion, a nationally recognized concert venue. When fully built, the neighborhood will be home to corporate headquarters, thousands of residences and streets lined with shops, restaurants and outstanding entertainment amenities surrounded by natural beauty.
In November 2016, the Howard County Council approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan for public improvements in Downtown Columbia. The bonds are backed by incremental property tax revenue generated by the new development.
TIF was included in the Downtown Columbia Plan because it is the most effective tool to fund public infrastructure improvements that provide significant public benefits. In addition to directly financing new roadway improvements, by facilitating the new development, it will generate new revenue to support:
In addition, a fiscal impact analysis shows that Howard County will realize surplus tax revenues of more than $410 million over 35 years from the Columbia Downtown Development District. That’s more than $11.7 million per year.
Nearly 50 years have passed since people started settling in Columbia’s villages, suburban-style communities with a variety of housing options, neighborhood schools and cul-de-sacs. The core of Columbia was dominated by Merriweather Post Pavilion and The Mall in Columbia, a popular and successful shopping center, but the rest of the downtown area was underdeveloped.
Through a public-private partnership, planning for Downtown Columbia began in 2005. After five years of community input, the Downtown Columbia Plan, an amendment to the Howard County General Plan, was unanimously approved and adopted by the Howard County Council in February of 2010, as the revitalization and redevelopment plan for Downtown Columbia. Later that year, The Howard Hughes Corporation took over the role as master developer for the revitalization efforts on approximately 390 acres of property in the center of Columbia.
The Downtown Columbia revitalization is creating three distinct neighborhoods: the Merriweather District, the Lakefront District and the Central District. Each has its own identify and amenities.
The Merriweather District is the first high density, mixed-use neighborhood in Downtown Columbia. It is distinguished by its proximity to the renovated state-of-the-art Merriweather Post Pavilion, an iconic concert venue. When fully built, the neighborhood will be home to corporate headquarters, thousands of residences, streets lined with shops, restaurants and outstanding entertainment amenities surrounded by the beauty of environmentally preserved woodlands and trees.
The Lakefront District fronts on Lake Kittamaqundi, a natural gathering area for festivals and other outdoor events. It is also where people come to eat at the popular Clyde’s, Sushi Sono, and Lupa, Foreman Wolf’s latest venture. Soon to open is The Soundry, another member of Clyde’s Restaurant Group. It will feature music, like its cousin, Hamilton, in Washington, DC. The District includes corporate offices, Haven on the Lake wellness spa, and Whole Foods Market in the former Rouse Company headquarters building. There are plans to add more office buildings, shops and long-awaited high-rise housing overlooking the lake.
The Central District is the home of The Mall in Columbia, a popular regional shopping destination that includes anchors like Nordstrom along with dozens of national and local eateries and hundreds of shops. The District also includes Corporate Row office buildings, townhouses, condos and apartments. The redevelopment has added three apartment residences: The Metropolitan, m.flats and Ten.M. The housing is amenity rich and within walking distance of offices, shopping and services, entertainment and recreation, as well as miles of pathways and parkland.