Gathering designs for downtown

Columbia residents to offer ideas


Howard County has started sending out e-mail invitations and buying advertisements for the weeklong intensive design gathering that will result in a master development plan for Columbia's downtown. About 100 people have signed up for the meetings this month.

All residents are welcome to attend the eight-day charrette, scheduled for Oct. 15-22, and county officials are hoping people will register as soon as possible.

"We would like to have as many people who would like to come," said Bill Mackey, the county's planning supervisor. "At this point, we hope to have to not turn anyone away."

The meetings will focus on the 570 acres that make up Town Center's core, including The Mall in Columbia and the 51.7-acre, crescent-shaped property near Merriweather Post Pavilion. Issues to be addressed include mixed uses, feasibility of walking, the balance between pedestrians and cars, diverse and affordable housing, and the environment.

The Baltimore firm Design Collective Inc. will lead the charrette, which is to begin Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. with a public workshop at Wilde Lake High School, where those attending will be asked to come up with plans for what they think Columbia should look like.

The consultants will review those plans and put them together into a number of alternative proposals, which will be discussed at three evening work sessions at General Growth's Columbia headquarters.

On Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m., the work session will focus on plan alternatives; on Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m., an evolving plan will be discussed; and on Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m., the plan will be refined.

During the week, those attending can visit the design team, which will be housed at General Growth's Spear Center, to look at the plans and offer ideas.

The consultants will present a draft master development plan for downtown Columbia on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at General Growth.

To register for the charrette, call 410-313-4374, or e-mail downtowncharrette@co.ho. For more information, visit or call 410-313-2350.

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