New restaurants and apartments could help revitalize Town Center; Downtown: Some hope that increased activity in Town Center will attract new residents who once thought the family community didn't reflect their needs.


When Malibu Grill opens in Columbia Town Center in December, patrons will be able to watch flamenco or samba dance shows while staff in cowboy hats bring skewers of cooked meat to their tables.

All-you-can-eat meat is the hallmark of the South American-style steakhouse, which has been operating in Falls Church, Va., and is seeking to expand. It offers nine kinds of meat prepared with the restaurant's own marinade, and a salad bar with hot dishes from South America.

The sound system will pipe in South American music every night, and patrons can watch live dance performances once a week. Tapas, or small servings of traditional Spanish appetizers, will be featured in the bar.

The opening of Malibu Grill in the space formerly occupied by Sgt. Peppers restaurant, next to Sushi Sono on the lakefront, is one step in an effort to revitalize the Town Center.

Owner Mike Cordero said the Rouse Co. invited him to open a new branch of his restaurant in Columbia; when he saw the location by the lake he felt "this was the place for us."

Another new restaurant, Copeland's of New Orleans, is scheduled to start serving Cajun-style food in May 2000. It will be built adjacent to the new parking garage at Little Patuxent Parkway and Wincopin Circle.

Donna Rice, Town Center Community Association chairwoman, said it would be "refreshing" to have a choice of different cuisines in the area.

Rice added that with new restaurants and the opening of the new wing of The Mall in Columbia, "Columbia is becoming more like a real city."

The area also will get a boost from a luxury apartment complex that the Rouse Co. plans to begin building in the spring, said Alton J. Scavo, senior vice president.

The project, which is being reviewed by the Howard County government, would place 550 apartment units at the south end of Lake Kittamaqundi. The building would feature several interconnected sections built around a central parking deck.

The apartments would "bring a resident population to downtown" that will take advantage of the local restaurants and stores, said Scavo.

He believes that more activity in Town Center might attract people who originally thought Columbia did not meet their needs.

Columbia's villages, which are mainly built for families, center around the schools, he said, but downtown has amenities oriented toward adults.

Rice said the addition of more night life downtown fits the Rouse Co.'s original concept for Columbia.

When the company first tried to draw residents to the area, "the literature promised just as much activity in the evening as during the day," she said. "I want to remind them of their promise."

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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