A Chronology of the Downtown Columbia Plan

In February of 2010, the Downtown Columbia Plan was unanimously approved by the County Council.  Click on the document below for a chronological journey of the development of this master plan.

A History of the Downtown Columbia Project

July, 2013

The Howard Hughes Corporationand Kettler jointly hold a Pre-submission Meeting in prepartion of submitting a Site Development Plan for Parcel C to the Howard Countyfor review.

April, 2013

The Howard Hughes Corporation announces that it has signed a lease with GP Strategies Corporation, to relocate its corporate headquarters to 70 Corporate Center in downtown Columbia.

Clyde’s of Columbia reopens after a three-month complete renovation.  Clyde’s recently renewed its least with landlord Howard Hughes Corporation for 10 years.

February, 2013

The Howard Hughes Corporation, Kettler and Orchard Development Corporation break ground on the Metropolitan Downtown Columbia, a 380-unit luxury apartment complex with nearly 14,000 square feet of ground floor retail.  This is the first project to proceed under the Downtown Columbia Plan. 

The Maryland Smart Growth Commission recognizes the Downtown Columbia Plan with its first-ever Smart Growth Community Award.

December, 2012

The Howard County Planning Board approves the expansion plans at The Mall in Columbia well as the Metropolitan Downtown Columbia upscale apartment complex. 

The Howard Hughes Corporation announces that it has signed a lease with the Columbia Association for an upscale fitness center to be located on the ground floor of the Rouse Building.

October, 2012

The Howard Hughes Corporation presents plans to the Howard County Design Advisory Panel about Whole Foods Market in The Rouse Building. 

The Howard Hughes Corporation announces that iconic Clyde’s restaurant has signed a 10-year lease renewal, and beginning in February, the restaurant will close for two months to undergo a complete remodel. 

The Downtown Columbia Plan wins 2012 Planners’ Choice Award presented by the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association.

September, 2012

The Downtown Columbia Plan is recognized with a downtown merit award by the International Downtown Association.

July, 2012 

The Howard Hughes Corporation announces that it has signed a lease for a new Whole Foods Market for a 45,000 square store in The Rouse Building, former headquarters of The Rouse Company.

The Howard County Council passes legislation that would form the Downtown Columbia Partnership, a commercial district management authority to oversee services for during the downtown redevelopment, such as maintenance, security and transportation.

April, 2012

The Howard County Planning Board approves the Final Development Plan (FDP) for the first project under the new master plan in downtown Columbia.  The FDP allows for up to 817 residential units and more than 76,000 square feet of retail space on Parcels C and D, located adjacent to The Mall in Columbia.

January, 2012

The Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) returns its staff report of the concept plans.  The Howard Hughes Corporation resubmits to DPZ addressing staff report comments.

November, 2011

Following the County’s Land Development Review Process, The Howard Hughes Corporation submits the concept plans to the Design Advisory Panel, receives approval and submits to the Department of Planning and Zoning.

October, 2011

The Howard Hughes Corporation holds a pre-submission meeting at which concept plans on the proposed development and Final Development Plan for Parcels C & D and Lot 39 in downtown Columbia were presented.

May, 2011

John DeWolf joins The Howard Hughes Corporation as senior vice president, responsible for the company’s development activities in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

March 2011
Howard County Council unanimously approves the Downtown-wide Design Guidelines  for downtown Columbia.

December 2010
Howard County Council holds public hearings on the Design Guidelines for downtown Columbia.

November 2010
General Growth Properties emerges from bankruptcy as two separate entities. The Columbia Master-planned Communities team joins the newly formed The Howard Hughes Corporation. Design Guidelines for the downtown Columbia Master Plan are filed with the County Council for approval. Additional cultural meetings are held.

October 2010
Multiple meetings are held to gather community input on the creation of the downtown Columbia Cultural Master Plan.

September 2010
General Growth Properties initiates the establishment of the downtown Columbia Cultural Plan Advisory Committee.

July 2010
Howard County Council unanimously approved an amendment to the , establishing procedures and policies associated with the redevelopment of downtown Columbia.

February 2010
Howard County Council unanimously approves the downtown Columbia plan.

January 2010
Howard County Council hears additional public testimony and holds additional work sessions.

December 2009
Howard County Council conducts additional work sessions.

November 2009
Howard County Council hears public testimony and conducts work sessions.

October 2009
Howard County Council holds special sessions for presentations on Council Bills 58 and 59.

September 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds two public work sessions and one meeting to finalize recommendation of Plan.

August 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds one public work session.

July 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds two public work sessions.

June 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds two public work sessions.

May 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds two public work sessions.

April 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds two public work sessions and Greg Hamm meets with the Board of Directors of the Howard County Library System.

March 2009
Howard County Planning Board continues taking public testimony at two additional hearings.

February 2009
Howard County Planning Board holds two hearings for public testimony.

January 2009
Greg Hamm along with consultants including Jaquelin Robertson, Allan Ward and Marty Wells present GGP’s response to the Technical Staff Report to the Planning Board.

December 2008
Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning presents its response to the GGP submission to the Planning Board.

November 2008
Members of the GGP staff begin meeting with the 10 Village Boards of Directors to field questions regarding the submission.

November 2008
Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning issues its Technical Staff Report in response to GGP’s submission.

October 2008
GGP submits its Zoning Regulations Amendment, General Plan Amendment and supplemental materials to Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning.

September 2008
Greg Hamm, along with consultants Keith Bowers and Alan Ward, meet with the Columbia Association Board of Directors to discuss plans for Symphony Woods.

July 2008
Following a reception in The Spear Center, GGP opened “Vision in View: Columbia Town Center,” a week-long exhibit showcasing key elements of the draft plan. The exhibit included maps, renderings and information about transportation options, cultural amenities, and environmental restoration and enhancements.

July 2008
GGP hosts the fourth “Vision in Focus” meeting, featuring the draft plan’s specific elements of each of the Columbia Town Center neighborhoods.

June 2008
Greg Hamm meets with the Kings Contrivance Village Board.

May 2008
During a two-week period, the GGP team conducts meetings at all 10 Columbia villages to solicit further feedback and ideas from members of the community about the draft plan.

May 2008
GGP hosts its “Vision in Focus” discussion series, focusing on three key elements of the draft plan presented on April 28, 2008. Consultants present additional information on sustainability/environment, transit/traffic and culture to more than 400 interested Columbians over three evenings.

April 2008
Greg Hamm meets with the Village Board Members of Long Reach.

April 2008
On Monday, April 28, 2008, almost 500 people came to The Spear Center to view “Many Voice; One Vision,” the presentation of General Growth Properties’ draft plan for the revitalization of Columbia Town Center.

April 2008
Two additional Community Forums featuring Keith Bowers of Biohabitats and Jaquelin T. Robertson of Cooper, Robertson & Partners are held.

March 2008
Greg Hamm continues meeting with the Village Board Members of Dorsey’s Search, Harper’s Choice, Oakland Mills and River Hill.

March 2008
GGP hosts two Community Forums, featuring architect and landscape architect Alan Ward of Sasaki Associates, Inc. and Gail Dexter Lord of Lord Cultural Resources. The Community Forums are intended to introduce GGP’s world-class planning and design team to the community.

February 2008
Greg Hamm attends a regular meeting of the Wilde Lake Village Board. Many residents attend what turns out to be a two-hour question and answer session on the impact of Columbia Town Center on their Village.

January 2008
At the Columbia Association Board of Directors’ monthly meeting, Greg Hamm speaks about an open and public discussion on the development of the downtown Columbia plan.

December 2007
Greg Hamm takes over as GGP’s regional vice president and general manager of Columbia

December 2007
Department of Planning and Zoning released “Downtown Columbia: A Community Vision,” the County’s final draft framework for the plan for downtown Columbia.

September 2007
Department of Planning and Zoning releases its draft vision framework.

January 2007
The fourth and final “Voices of Vision” event features Adam Lerner, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar. Dr. Lerner speaks about the importance of a “culturally energized” community center with art in public spaces and the need for places where young artists can hone their crafts.

November 2006
Ann Forsyth, Ph.D. is the second featured speaker in the “Voices of Vision” speaker series. Dr. Forsyth, professor and director of the Metropolitan Design Center at the University of Minnesota, focuses on the social aspects of physical planning, urban design and development.

October 2006
GGP and Howard Community College jointly present the first of the “Voices of Vision” speaker series. “Voices of Vision” is designed to elevate the conversation of the future of Columbia’s downtown to important, visionary, forward-thinking concepts and solutions. Vernon D. Swaback, a widely published author on the topic of urban planning and design, speaks about the importance of planning and design and the impact on quality of life.

February 2006
Department of Planning and Zoning releases its Preliminary Draft Master Plan, which is based on the initial concepts developed during the Charrette.

December 2005
The first of 14 Focus Group meetings sponsored by the Department of Planning and Zoning are held through September 2006. These groups consisted of community leaders and major stakeholders in the redevelopment of downtown Columbia. Discussions focus on the needed components for the master plan.

October 2005
Department of Planning and Zoning hosts a week-long Charrette, a collaboration between designers and more than 300 residents to generate ideas for the future master plan. Improved public transportation, pedestrian walkways, a civic center and a Central Park in Symphony Woods are among some of the ideas that resulted from the meetings.

June 2005
The second GGP Town Hall Meeting draws about 350 people to further the discussion about Town Center’s future. The central topics of the meeting are walkability and traffic capacity.

May 2005
Almost 500 community members turn out to GGP’s first Town Hall Meeting, which focuses on James Rouse’s vision for Columbia, the town’s history as well as a framework for the future master plan.