Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coming Soon To A Meeting Near You

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This morning I attended a preview of General Growth Properties much anticipated vision for Columbia’s Town Center. Doug Godine, the General Manager of Columbia for GGP, took great pains to emphasize that this was not the final plan but a working plan that will evolve with input from all the stakeholders; the citizens of Columbia, Howard County Government, Columbia Association and even the State Highway Administration.

One of the key elements of GGP’s vision are two greenways that would eventually connect all the disparate parts of Town Center. Think of it as kind of a super pathway system designed to handle a high volume of pedestrian traffic. The inner ring would consist of a loop around the core of the Town Center. This greenway would be approximately 1.5 miles long. The outer ring would loop around the perimeter of the Town Center area and would be a little over three miles long.

GGP envisions four distinct neighborhoods. They are being identified as Warfield, Symphony North, The Crescent and the Lakefront. Each features a mix of uses but the bulk of the new office space would be in the Crescent while Warfield would be heavier on retail. All four areas would contain housing and all housing would be either condominiums or apartments. No town homes or single family homes are included in this preliminary vision.
A fellow blogger also attended and offered a very interesting suggestion on how to uniquely orient a new pedestrian promenade from the mall to the lakefront. I'll leave it to him to report on that. It was a real audience pleaser.

I really don’t want to steal anymore of GGP’s thunder here. Suffice it to say that I was impressed by the depth and breadth of this “vision”. GGP and it’s planners have developed a very enticing framework for the remaking of Town Center. If you are interested in Columbia you owe it to yourself to attend one of these information sessions that GGP will hosting around town in the coming months.

If you have followed the controversy over the Plaza and the rhetoric of groups like CoFoDoCo, you have heard what armchair planners think should be done. Now it is time to see what the professionals think should be done.