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Where The Biggest Live/Work/Play Projects Are Coming To Howard County

With new mixed-use developments and the revitalization of downtown Columbia underway, Howard County is one of the busiest spots in the state.

The Merriweather District


Downtown Columbia's "urban village" — the next phase of downtown Columbia's 14M SF development — will begin taking shape this year. The Howard Hughes Corp. will begin construction on a 350-unit residential building and a 300k to 400k SF office building by the end of the year, Howard Hughes vice president of development Greg Fitchitt said. Fitchitt will be a panelist at Bisnow's Howard County Boom event Feb. 23 at One Merriweather in Columbia, starting at 7:30 am.

The buildings are part of Phase 2 of the Merriweather District, which will include a pedestrian-friendly town square with festivals, an ice rink, performances and markets. All told, the second phase will have two office and residential buildings, 150k SF of street-level retail and 2,500 public parking spaces.


The Howard County Council in November approved $90M in tax-increment financing to build the garage (which will also serve Merriweather Post Pavilion customers) and road network to support the urban development.

Two office buildings were constructed in Phase 1 of the Merriweather District: One Merriweather and Two Merriweather, which will open by the end of the year. Medstar will occupy half of One Merriweather, starting this month, Fitchitt said. A fine dining restaurant and a deli are planned to occupy the retail portion of the building. Multinational publishing and education company Pearson PLC is occupying 75k SF of the 130k SF Two Merriweather building.

Construction on Annapolis Junction Town Center


A few miles south of Columbia, Somerset Construction Co. is developing another live/work/play project within walking distance of the Savage MARC station. The $200M Annapolis Junction Town Center will deliver 416 resort-style apartment homes this summer and a 101k SF office building in April, said Somerset chief operating officer Neil Greenberg. The project will also include about 20k SF of retail.


Renting the studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments will cost between $1,400 to $2,600/month. Amenities at the LEED Gold-certified building will include a saltwater pool, bocce court, dog walk area, business center and bicycle repair shop.

The apartment is close to Route 32 and office jobs in the county.

"The days of one person in one car traveling long distance to work are becoming more difficult," Greenberg said.

Starting late next year, the next phase will include a hotel with more retail and restaurants. It will be modeled on the developer's Arundel Preserve Town Center development near Arundel Mills mall.

Little Patuxent Square


Another office building is taking shape in downtown Columbia. Little Patuxent Square's first tenant, Optum, will move into the 129k SF office next month once the building is complete, MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services executive vice president Chris Bennett said. The UnitedHealth Group subsidiary was formerly known as QSSI.

That leaves the building, developed by Costello Construction, with 28k SF of office and retail available for lease. Interest in downtown Columbia has accelerated during the last five years, in part because Millennials want to live near where they work and play, Bennett said.