A day that many, many people in this county had waited for years to arrive finally happened, as ownership of Merriweather Post Pavilion was transferred from Howard Hughes Corporation to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission (DCACC). My view is that it's still kind of unfortunate and should have been unnecessary that transfer of Merriweather became a bargaining chip in the entire tiff over the TIF plan for the Crescent property, but it did, and honestly, MPP is now in better hands. Local hands.
So now the development begins, thanks also to the TIF. Phase One of the Crescent development will bring not only the MPP garage, but 1.25 million square feet of commercial and retail space, as well as 750 apartment units. Wonder what sort of retail space will come? Would it be possible that say, merchants in the Columbia Mall may move to the new space? Somehow I think it might suck for the Mall if Apple Store or L.L. Bean or Lululemon or something of that ilk leave the Mall for Crescenty pastures. Or, it might not. There will be new retail coming to Columbia and I can think of a lot of stores that we need here. Like a full-fledged Microsoft Windows store. And of course a Tim Horton's. But once the retail space is built I'd expect some dominoes to fall in Columbia's current retail landscape.
And the landscape of one Columbian of note changed most profoundly today. DCACC Executive Director Ian Kennedy had been frightening many a child and leaving many an adult questioning his sanity for years, with a beard that grew longer every day the DCACC was denied ownership of Merriweather. Eventually, it grew into this monstrosity. Complete with it's own Twitter handle (@IKBeard) and sleep number setting. The EPA had the beard on a watchlist. The effect on Ian's psyche? Look, and you be the judge:
So today, at the turnover, Ian made good on his promise to have the beard shaved once Merriweather was turned over. And so shaved it was, onstage, for all to enjoy! I swear, this is something I could've only dreamed of:
Actual "after" pictures do exist of Ian but for this moment, savor the ones above, courtesy of Jen Terrasa's and Allan Kittleman's Facebook pages, respectively.
It's with a bit of sadness that I mention the passing of Howard County Housing Commission Executive Director Tom Carbo, who passed suddenly over the weekend at the age of 57.
Mentioning Ian in this post is a bit ironic, as Ian is also a member of the Housing Commission. For my money, Tom-- and Ian, for that matter-- received a very poor rap here in Oakland Mills, thanks to the fearmongering of most of the leadership on the Village Board. I was on the Village Board when Tom worked the deal for the Housing Commission to buy the Stevens Forest apartments, which then led a number of so-called "village activists" to accuse the commission and the county government of wanting to put more "Section 8" subsidized housing into Oakland Mills, instead of the upscale housing that they think the Village of Oakland Mills deserves. In the intervening three years, I'm proud to report that this little cabal of sycophants has accomplished precious little towards improving housing stock in Oakland Mills. But they have made a lot of noise and fooled a lot of people in positions of authority that they're important or even speak for a significant plurality of people in Oakland Mills. But I digress.
While I may have also disagreed with Tom from time to time, I never doubted his commitment, concern, and passion for Howard County, and his desire to do the rest he could for Howard County residents. His loss is a loss for the entire community and my thoughts are with his family and friends.
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