Meeting slated on a new CA building

Headquarters possibilities set as focus tomorrow

November 09, 2005|By LAURA CADIZ | LAURA CADIZ,SUN REPORTER

Tomorrow night, the public will get its first chance to hear about a concept for constructing a new Columbia Association headquarters that includes the idea of tearing down the association's current lakefront building.

The meeting will be held at the association's headquarters, 10221 Wincopin Circle, starting at 7:30 p.m.

The association board has invited a contract worker for Design Collective Inc. - which headed the county-sponsored, weeklong charrette for the future development of Columbia's Town Center - to talk about a possible new headquarters.

This follows a meeting behind closed doors between the board and the contract worker, Don Zuchelli, during the charrette, which was supposed to be an open process for public participation.

"This is sort of to continue to gather information and to be as uber-transparent as we can," board Chairman Joshua Feldmark said of tomorrow's meeting.

The original meeting with Zuchelli, held Oct. 20, has been criticized by one board member and Del. Elizabeth Bobo, a Howard County Democrat, because while it was technically open to the public, the board never notified the public or the media.

Bobo said yesterday she thinks it is a good idea that the board put the discussion on its agenda.

"I'm really not looking backward," she said. "I'm spending time looking forward to having as open a process as possible."

The association's lease on its downtown lakefront building, which is owned by General Growth Properties, expires in August 2007. The association has been compiling a list of alternatives, ranging from continuing to rent, to buying a building or constructing a building on land it owns.

At the meeting during the charrette, Zuchelli talked about another possibility - letting developers compete over buying land for a new headquarters and constructing the building.

If the association vacates its headquarters - which also is home to Clyde's Restaurant and the Tomato Palace - that could lead to the possibility of tearing down the building, making way for an open vista to Lake Kittamaqundi.

Feldmark defends the board's original meeting with Zuchelli. He said the board unanimously agreed before the charrette that it might have to meet that week at a moment's notice based on what happened during the process.

He said no decisions about the association's headquarters were made at the first meeting with Zuchelli.

"It was just about expanding the field of decisions," Feldmark said.

laura.cadiz@baltsun.com

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