Who Needs a History Lesson?
Today’s article in the Baltimore Sun gives a decent overview of where we are in the plan for Columbia’s downtown.
One or two items gave us pause – including the implication that “ambitious goals” in such a plan is seen as an evil in itself. Columbia would not exist but for “ambitious goals.” Jim Rouse looked at a patchwork of farmland and envisioned a vibrant, verdant, diverse city where people of different races and backgrounds lived, worked, and socialized together. And he believed he could make that happen through bold community planning.
It doesn’t get much more ambitious than that.
So here we are, 40+ years later, some of us concerned our plan for downtown is too ambitious. Columbia 2.0 is here to say that ambition in community planning isn’t an evil – it’s a Columbia tradition. The real evil is NOT planning for the growth that is coming to our area regardless of whether or not we redevelop downtown. The real threat is uncontrolled, unconnected development in place of an overarching plan. And the real tragedy would be wasting an opportunity to renew our environment, arts and culture community, and the sense of togetherness that some see as waning.
“Ambitious goals”? Bring them on.
Developer out of bankruptcy
By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun
4:56 p.m. EST, November 26, 2010
Plans for vast changes to downtown Columbia have picked up speed in recent months, having cleared nearly a year’s worth of political and economic hurdles — including the master developer’s recently resolved bankruptcy and an election challenge to a key supporter.
The town’s master developer, the Howard Hughes Corp., is now split off from a revived General Growth Properties, the Chicago-based shopping mall firm that emerged from bankruptcy in early November. Hughes is moving forward on an array of studies and plans that could get construction on the huge, 30-year project started in 2012.
“Although a lot of it has been quiet to the public, we’ve been working nonstop since February,” said Gregory F. Hamm, regional vice president and general manager of the new firm, which has its headquarters in Dallas. “We see light at the end of the tunnel, which is great.”
The zoning plan, approved by the County Council Feb. 1, would allow up to 5,500 new residences, 4.3 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.25 million square feet of new retail space plus hotels, a rebuilt Merriweather Post Pavilion, cultural amenities, environmental improvements and a pedestrian-friendly town center dotted with attractive public spaces. It is the biggest change by far in Columbia since the town was founded by developer James W. Rouse in the mid-1960s. … (Full article here)