Continuation granted for `crescent' proposal

The action clears up confusion surrounding General Growth plans

July 13, 2005|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

General Growth Properties has requested and received a continuation for its proposal before the county Planning Board to commercially develop the land adjacent to the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The continuation appeal, which the board granted Monday night, settles the confusion surrounding the development company's plans for the 51.7-acre crescent-shaped property - Columbia's largest chunk of developable land - next to Merriweather.

After General Growth submitted the proposal to the board in October, it shared with the community in May a draft master plan to turn Columbia's Town Center into a vibrant, bustling downtown core.

The centerpiece of the plan is a mix of businesses, homes, parking and open space on the property near Merriweather.

One scenario for the site would include a 24-story building, an 18-story building and an eight-story building.

That trio could include 704,000 square feet of office space, 148,000 square feet of retail, 1,000 housing units and a 125-room hotel.

"This [continuation request] was done directly in an effort to clear up any confusion pertaining to the crescent [land]," Dennis W. Miller, General Growth's general manager for Columbia, said yesterday.

Miller said one of three occurrences would cause the company to revisit the plan - if it were to become moot, amended or withdrawn.

"All of those occurrences would be something that would happen after the master planning process comes to conclusion," he said.

Bridget Mugane of Columbia, a lawyer who helped spearhead community opposition to General Growth's commercial development plan, said she is pleased about the company's decision.

But, she said, "it would have been helpful for it to happen sooner and saved people the effort of going through the hearings."

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