I promised my take on building height within ZRA 113, and so here goes:
No recent single building in Howard County has garnered more feelings, good and bad, than the downtown tower. For opponents, the tower represents a threat of more development to Columbia, development unchecked and unmanaged. For proponents, the tower represents the promise of a modern Columbia, a symbol of a contemporary, upscale downtown, indicative of a place where residents can live, work, and play within an easy walk.
My view is, this project is all of these things, and more. Moving forward from the tower, GGP has promised several buildings of greater than 20 stories in height.
Tall buildings are a relatively new phenomenon in Howard County. Pre-Columbia, Howard County's tallest building stood a whopping four stories tall. There was simply no need for tall buildings in rural, pre-development Howard County. In fact, in many of Columbia's villages, covenants exist limiting building height to four stories.
Downtown is a different animal. There is a vision in the current redevelopment plan of a high-rise, upscale apartment/condo building overlooking Columbia's "Central Park" in the crescent region. There is the existing downtown tower and possibly a couple additional buildings. Opponents to this portion of the plan call this a forerunner to greater development, including high-rises, in the villages.
Columbia was the civic entity in Howard County that brought tall building s here (I recall when Grande Pointe-- then Tor-- was marketed heavily for it's picturesque views of downtown from the top floors.) Therefore, Columbia should be the entity to redefine tall buildings in Howard County.
I have no problems with the concept of building height in ZRA 113. The existence of Grande Pointe hasn't started a skyscraper run here. Nor has the downtown tower. I doubt several additional buildings will either.
On another note:
If you read this week's fine Patuxent Publishing products, you know that the finalists for CA President are coming in this weekend. As part of the Citizens Advisory Committee working on the search, I hope all will understand if I have to decline comment on the candidates at this time. There are issues of confidentiality afoot and I don't want to steer into those waters, even accidentally.
However, I invite all to attend the public forum for the finalists, Sunday from 2-4pm at Stonehouse in Long Reach. See you there!