Developers and county officials broke ground Monday, Feb. 11, on a $100 million apartment complex to be built next to the Columbia mall.
The Metropolitan Downtown Columbia, a 380-unit luxury apartment complex in the Warfield neighborhood, is expected to open in late summer of 2014. It is a partnership between Orchard Development, Kettler and Howard Hughes Corp.
"It took awhile to bring folks together and get a great visionary, vibrant, walkable and sustainable plan for Town Center Columbia," said County Executive Ken Ulman at the Feb. 11 groundbreaking. "The fact that we are here today with construction about to begin, for me, is very exciting."
The Metropolitan will be built between Broken Land Parkway and the Columbia mall. It is designed to look like multiple buildings, but actually is only one building, according to a spokesman for Kettler.
The northern half of the building will have five stories, while the southern half will be six stories, in part to conceal the building's parking garage, which is located on the southern side of the complex.
The complex will include lofts, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from $1,500 to $2,800 in monthly rents. It also will have 14,000 square feet of retail on the first floor facing Mall Ring Road, which will be renamed Columbia Mall Circle, to the east of the development.
It also will include a three-quarter of an acre linear public park. According to developers, a Baltimore-based artist will be commissioned to construct approximately $500,000 of "interactive art and sculptures" for the park.
Asheel Shah, Kettler's senior vice president of real estate investments, said the apartments' access is what makes it a special project.
"Access to the mall, accessibility to employment opportunities creates a great environment for success," Shah, a Columbia native, said.
Shah expects the complex will attract a broad spectrum of tenants, from young working professionals to empty-nesters to young families.
Shah added the first units will be available for lease approximately three months leading up to the building's opening.
Columbia County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, who passes by the development on her morning walk, said Kettler has set the bar high for downtown development.
"On my morning walks I hope to see something coming out of the ground very soon," Sigaty said.
John DeWolf, a senior vice president of development for Howard Hughes Corp., said the Metropolitan is the first of many projects in downtown Columbia.
"It is exciting to celebrate this pivotal first step in the revitalization of downtown Columbia," DeWolf said. "This milestone has been highly anticipated by everyone in the community, especially those who have invested significant time and effort in the planning process."