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The Howard County Neighborhood Guide

Once, it was a no-man’s-land sandwiched between Washington and Baltimore. Now, with one of the wealthiest and most educated populations in the country, and towns that rank among America’s best places to live, Howard County has become a fascinating real estate market in its own right.

Main Street, Ellicott City

Howard County’s seven districts are a mosaic of different approaches to real estate. Some are dominated by bustling, master-planned residential communities. Others have legal protections against commercial development and remain largely rural. This intricate balance makes the county an idiosyncratic landscape for developers and investors.

Developers like The Howard Hughes Corp. and Greenebaum Enterprises are eyeing further expansion in Columbia and Fulton, venturing beyond residential into office and retail. Meanwhile, a moratorium on new development in the county seat of Ellicott City threatens to stunt growth for years to come.

Howard County offers one thing that downtown D.C. and Baltimore lack: available land. Much of the county remains a blank canvas, and developers are eagerly taking up the mantle of placemaking: turning empty land into fully fledged neighborhoods where people will want to live and work.

Bisnow is hosting a Future of Howard County event May 14, with speakers including Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and The Howard Hughes Corp.'s local head, Greg Fitchitt, at Two Merriweather in Downtown Columbia.