The Howard County Planning Board approved final plans Thursday for three projects — an expansion at The Mall in Columbia and apartment complexes in downtown Columbia and Elkridge.
Plans to tear down the free-standing L.L. Bean store at the mall and replace it with an open-air plaza with restaurants and additional retail were unanimously approved by the board.
L.L. Bean is scheduled to close in May, and construction is expected to begin in June, according to General Growth Properties (GGP) Senior Director of Development Jim Whitcome. Some "behind the scenes" work will begin in January, Whitcome said.
GGP, owner of the mall, is planning a 75,000 square-foot expansion that will add two restaurants, two cafes and eight to 10 retail stores in the area of where L.L. Bean currently stands. Whitcome said negotiations are ongoing with possible tenants.
While the project will eliminate 69 parking spaces, the fountain in front of the L.L. Bean store will remain in operation.
'Metropolitan' in Columbia
The planning board voted 4-1 to approve a 380-unit apartment and retail complex in the Warfield neighborhood west of the mall.
The "Metropolitan" will be a five- to six-story luxury apartment complex that wraps around parking garage. There will be 14,000 square feet of retail on the first floor facing Broken Land Parkway.
The complex will include lofts, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from $1,500 to $2,800 in monthly rents. The project is a partnership between Orchard Development, Kettler and Howard Hughes Corp.
The project also includes the development of a 28,500 square-foot portion of the West Promenade, offering residents a place to gather and easy access to the mall. The promenade will run parallel to the mall parking lot and includes a 6,000 square-foot playground.
Construction is expected to begin in the spring.
Apartments near Costco
A 320-unit apartment complex in Elkridge along Lark Brown Road also was unanimously approved.
The Paragon Gateway Apartments will be comprised of five four-story apartment buildings with a swimming pool, clubhouse, adventure center and a greenhouse on more than 14 acres adjacent to the Costco in the Gateway Overlook Shopping Center
"I'm thrilled," said Jonathan Mayers of Chesapeake Realty Partners, which designed the plans. "We're very excited to get started."
Mayers said construction is expected to begin this summer.