If so, please sign this petition. The goal was to get at least 300 signatures by this Thursday, when the CA Board is scheduled to discuss and vote on the plan. I think there’s something like 226 right now. Please click the link, sign the petition and encourage your friends to do the same. This is too important to our future to delay.
p.s. Here’s what we can continue to expect of Symphony Woods if we don’t act:
Last night, I attended the pre-submission community meeting for GGP’s proposed new development at the mall. I’ll let you read about the drama that ensued here.
One of the things that kept coming up during the question and answer portion of the evening was the fact that the documents and renderings displayed around the room were hard to understand.
Let me get this straight. You’re not an architect, planner or engineer, but you expect have a good understanding what’s going on in complicated site drawings? Really?
I heard a lot of negative comments, but one in particular really made me angry. A woman named Ursula Kondo, who I remember from her LTE’s opposing the beautiful new Walgreens at the corner of 175 and Thunder Hill Rd said, “This is a waste of time.”
Let me get this straight. You’re seeing these documents before they are submitted to the county, yet you think this is a waste of time? Really? Isn’t MORE community involvement one of your mantras?
Look, it is clear to me that the same tired old voices are trying to remain relevant and will stop at nothing to derail or delay the progress we need downtown. If we thought the opponents of change that tried so desperately to stop the plan before would magically disappear, last night’s drama at HCC is proof that they were just laying low for a while.
Those of us who fought so hard to get the plan passed cannot just sit by and let these people dictate the terms of this process. Stay tuned….
Last Thursday night, I attended the Zoning Pre-Submission Hearing conducted by the Howard Hughes Corporation. After their presentation, they opened the floor to questions and comments. At one point, Joel Broida, one of the more vocal opponents of the redevelopment grabbed the mic and made a comment that literally left my mouth open wide.
Here’s his quote from The Columbia Patch article: “Renters don’t have pride in the community,” he said. “They aren’t the ones to pick up that piece of paper someone dropped.”
Instead of commenting on just how wrong I believe his statement to be, I will instead ask you to read this post by Bill Santos over at Columbia Compass. He sums it up more succinctly that I could ever hope to.
However, I would like to add one thing. It is obvious that Mr. Broida is so against change that he would violate core values of inclusion and diversity we hold dear here in Columbia, just for the sake of complaining. And that’s just sad.
We fought long and hard for the changes that will be coming to Downtown, and now we’ll finally get to see the plans for the first project! Tonight at 6:30, Howard Hughes Corp. will present its plans for 817 residential units and more than 76,000 square feet of retail space. The meeting will be held in room 400 of The Rouse Co. Foundation Student Services Hall at Howard Community College. Hope to see you there!
We sat down with the Columbia Association‘s Jane Dembner the other day to talk redevelopment, village center master plans and how CA is building relationships for the good of its stakeholders. It is truly exciting to see everyone coming together on our community’s plan! Thanks, Jane, for all your hard work and your vision.
Phil Engelke is a local architect and urban planner who has worked on projects all over the globe. Last week he was kind enough to walk around Columbia’s underutilized downtown with us to talk about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we begin our redevelopment. Thanks, Phil!
Back in March of last year, on a much nicer day, my sister and I went to the lakefront in hopes of interviewing people there about what they wanted to see Downtown. The only problem was, there was no one to interview…
It looks like the new execs at the Howard Hughes Corporation have made some big changes here in Columbia. We don’t know what to make of them yet. All we know is that this project needs to keep moving forward.
From the comments in the Sun article, it looks like both our elected officials and the new Howard Hughes leadership understand that the momentum of the community’s plan is intensifying.
The new CEO of the corporation, David Weinreb, said, “We’re shifting into high gear now. This is the time to be making bold moves.”
County Executive Ken Ulman and members of the county council stressed the enforceability of the plan, regardless of land ownership.
“This points out exactly what we’ve been saying for the last three years,” Ulman said. “The plan is the plan. It does not depend on ownership. They can embrace the plan and build the downtown … or not. On the one hand, it feels like we’re starting over with new people, but we’ve got a plan to protect the interests of Columbia and county residents.”
County Councilwoman Courtney Watson was more blunt. “We don’t have to approve the rest of the process unless the company performs. I think we’re in the catbird’s seat,” she said.
Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty can take much credit for insisting that the legislation be written for any developer of downtown, not just General Growth Properties, who happened to be the developer at the time. We should thank her for her foresight.
As David Weinreb said, it’s time to “shift into high gear.” For over five years now, we’ve been engaged in a comprehensive planning and creative process. Now, we’re looking forward to the process of building the vibrant, connected, and walkable downtown we’ve envisioned.
Next up on the agenda for the Downtown Plan? The drafting of a Cultural Master Plan for Downtown, as required in the legislation. Hired for this purpose at the developer’s expense is Lord Cultural Resources, the largest cultural planning firm in the world, with an impressive resume that includes The World Trade Center Memorial Museum in New York, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
As part of the process, a Cultural Advisory Committee has been meeting extensively with the community to get their ideas on what that plan should look like. Since September, there have been two large community-wide public meetings and four focus groups (one each for teens, young professionals, parents of young children, and older adults). Following that, a survey went out via e-mail so that anyone who is interested can participate.
The survey is here, and the message that went out with it reads:
It is important that your voice be included to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are shared with the Advisory Committee. Please share this link with your organization’s database as well as family, friends and others who might be interested in providing their input.
For me and Columbia 2.0, it is truly exciting to see the nuts and bolts of the plan coming together. But, it seems not everybody views this as an opportunity for inclusion.
Recently, I witnessed an individual from the Columbia Association camp dismiss the Cultural Advisory Committee’s efforts to reach out to the community as disingenuous, after a community member had expressed excitement about receiving the survey to participate.
This attitude is really disheartening. We should be encouraging community participation, not repressing it. Can’t we expect someone associated with CA to promote involvement and diversity in a public plan?
There’s something very wrong when the people who represent our community question the value of participating in it.
We already blogged about the formation of The Howard Hughes Corporation, but we haven’t formally welcomed them. So, on behalf of Columbia 2.0 and all of our members, we would like to welcome our new partners to town. Just as we did with GGP, we expect to work with them and hold them accountable to the community as the downtown plan moves forward.
And speaking of GGP, we would like to thank them for all the amazing work they did for us over the past 5 years. They went through some hard times, but never wavered in their support for Columbia. Thank you and good luck as you continue your mission.
And in the “good first move” category, they’re keeping Greg Hamm at the helm. Here’s to a successful partnership with THHC, as we continue to build upon the vision of Columbia.
Last night I attended a focus group at Union Jack’s with other young professionals about the role culture will play as downtown is redeveloped. It was a loose, laid back, candid conversation about where we are and where we want to be. There were lots of great ideas floated, and it is good to know that such an emphasis will be placed on this as things heat up. Here are some highlights of the evening, featuring Dave Bittner, Trevor Greene and Tim Singleton:
- Brian Dunn