12:57 PM EST, February 8, 2013
Why is Howard Hughes Corp. remaining silent on the new Symphony Woods proposal? Previously the Columbia Association staff requested a delay on implementing the Planning Board approved plan for Symphony Woods so that they "could work collaboratively with Howard County and Howard Hughes." CA staff is asking the CA Board to adopt this new plan without any estimate of its cost. Will it be $10 million, $100 million or $500 million? How much of the cost will fall on the backs of the CA lien payers?
Throughout the years of discussion on the downtown revitalization plan there have been much talk about walkability and connectivity. The original approved plan called for walkways on the north side of Merriweather Post Pavilion that would create an attractive gathering spot as well as provide access between the mall area and MPP. Real estate professionals frequently speak of "curb appeal." The greatest opportunity to enhance Symphony Woods' "curb appeal" is the vista along Little Patuxent Parkway. Now CA staff is proposing to drop the original plan and embark on a totally new concept that puts walkways in the northeast corner of Symphony Woods, connects nothing to a new cluster of buildings and does little to enhance Symphony Woods' "curb appeal."
Both CA staff and some county officials have stated they favor the new plan. But where is Howard Hughes? We were told that the pause was to allow CA to collaborate with them. This change greatly affects them, but they have remained silent on this proposal. Why? Do they not see this new plan as viable economically or operationally?
Not that I think CA owes Howard Hughes anything, but the idea was to collaborate to hopefully have complementary and coordinated development between them. Where is the collaboration?
Marvin A. Lawson
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