The Howard County Planning Board approved plans Thursday night to build a nine-story development containing office space, retail and 160 rental apartments near the downtown Columbia lakefront.
The development, to be known as Little Patuxent Square, is located off of Little Patuxent Parkway on Wincopin Circle and will be built by Costello Construction.
"It's a huge step for downtown Columbia," said David Costello, owner of Costello Construction.
Costello estimates the project will begin construction in mid-March and could be completed as early as January 2016. It will include 10,145 square feet of retail space, 126,181 square feet of office space, underground and above ground parking facilities.
Costello built the Columbia Lakefront building on Wincopin Circle, which neighbors the development, and has been based there since 2001.
Although Costello had a building permit to begin work on the excavation of the property, he wanted to wait until the full project received Planning Board approval before starting.
The approval marks a new chapter for the vacant 1.4 acre property, which has drawn the ire of residents since 2005 when a 22-story residential condominium tower was proposed on the site by former owner WCI Communities.
Residents, most notably Town Center village board member Joel Broida, opposed the enormity of the previous development. Broida sued the developer, WCI, and although his court complaint was dismissed, the Howard County Council adopted a zoning amendment limiting the building height to nine stories.
Costello bought the property from WCI in March 2012 for $3.5 million.