Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Town Center Phase One

Last night GGP unveiled plans for phase one of the Town Center redevelopment. The most striking feature of this first phase was the absence of a residential component. With all the controversy surrounding the discussion of increasing residential density in Town Center, GGP appears to be deferring that conversation until June when they plan to petition the county council to amend the existing New Town zoning.

Smart move. The phase one plan calls for 300,000 square feet of new retail space, 150,000 square feet of new office space and a 300 room conference center hotel. They can develop all of these uses under the existing New Town zoning.

GGP’s phase one plan also calls for creating new “pedestrian friendly” connections between Symphony Woods and the mall and between the lakefront and the mall.

The drawing above shows how the new retail component will connect to the mall at the food court. Actually, this rendering conflicts a bit with Greg Hamm’s verbal description. Greg and his consultants pointed out that the grade drops 100 feet from Governor Warfield and Twin Rivers Road to the lakefront. As part of this phase of development, GGP would raise the grade of the food court entrance resulting in the entry being on the second floor of the mall. The food court would end up being 15 feet below grade. The rendering still shows the entry on the ground level.

In front of this new entry will be a plaza that will feature some type of public amenity. GGP envisions a public space that could function as outdoor concert venue in the summer time and perhaps be used as an outdoor ice rink in the winter months. This public plaza would be surrounded by street level retail in are that GGP was calling “Market Square.”

This drawing shows the planned connection to Symphony Woods. The new proposed 300 room hotel is in the foreground on the right hand side. Part of GGP’s phase one development includes a makeover of Merriweather Post Pavilion which would add more seats under a new roof structure and more ancillary buildings to accommodate more restrooms and other uses. The backstage area would also be expanded to provide better accommodations for visiting artists. The other buildings shown in this rendering are all on CA property. GGP is suggesting that new arts and cultural facilities would be ideal to fill in around Merriweather. Though Greg referred to certain “much loved, little utilized” amenities in Town Center I think it is doubtful that the old line Columbians would ever agree to this degree of development activity in Symphony Woods.
This drawing shows what GGP is calling the “Spanish steps” after the famous area of the same name in Rome, Italy. This is how GGP envisions the lakefront connection to the mall. This new pedestrian passageway would come accross the existing GGP building lower parking lot and would also serve as “sub watershed” with a water feature running down the left side of this passageway.

Greg Hamm told the audience that the new Town Center development program would be guilded by four principles of connectivity, restoration, inclusion and amentities. So far these plans seem to address those principles very nicely.

2 comments:

brian said...

It was nice meeting you last night!

-Brian Dunn

wordbones said...

brian,

likewise I'm sure.

-wb