Friday, May 18, 2012

Keep ‘Em Close

Yesterday afternoon the Howard Hughes Corporation held a preview of the new $100 million apartment project called “The Metropolitan.” in their offices at the lakefront. Included among the invitees were some of the most active opponents of the Columbia Town Center redevelopment legislation.

As Michael Corleone put it in Godfather II, “…keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”

It seems to have worked. In this story by David Greisman in Explore Howard, Delegate Liz Bobo “called the project "very creative" and "classy."

"It has been a long haul of well over five years of, in my opinion, looking at plans that were not thought out and did not hang together. There was nothing unique in them, no really classy design," Bobo said."

Someone should have told Liz that nobody is going to spend money on a building design before they have the approvals to build. That “long haul of well over five years” she referred to was at least partly do to her own efforts to slow down the process.

At least two other outspoken opponents of the development were also in attendance, Columbia Council members Cindy Coyle and Alex Hekimian. Presumably they too will start spinning their previous positions on Town Center.

The most notable thing about this project for me is the rental rate. With some units projected to rent for almost three grand a month, these apartments will be the most expensive rental units in HoCo. The developers are convinced there is a market for this but they may find themselves competing with single family home rentals. According to this report in Citybiz Real Estate, 55 percent of new renters are opting for single-family homes and 45 percent are landing in apartments.”

That trend is largely attributable to the recent housing bubble though and may have begun to reverse itself by the time these new units are delivered in 2014.

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