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Columbia Mall Expansion Could Begin in January

Construction on the Mall in Columbia’s expansion could begin as early as mid-January, according to Howard County officials. The 75,000-square-foot addition will add new shops and restaurants at the shopping center that is near 100 percent occupancy.

The makeover will add more outdoor space, landscaping and pedestrian-friendly design so it resembles more of a lifestyle center, says Mark Thompson, director of downtown redevelopment for Howard County.

"Consumers really enjoy that outdoor shopping experience," Thompson says. "Enhanced landscaping areas for sitting are very popular."

Those are some of the components of the Wegmans-anchored Hunt Valley Towne Centre and Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, though mall officials say Columbia's plans aren't modeled on any specific shoppng center. 

General Growth Properties Inc., the mall's owner, will reopen the original mall entrance so patrons can walk directly from the mall to the pedestrian bridge that connects to the lakefront area across the street, says Mall in Columbia Marketing Manager Michelle Jose.

The mall’s first phase will be completed by the end of 2013. Jose says she does not yet know when the second phase will begin and could not say what new shops the expanded mall will hold. Nordstrom, Macy’s and JC Penney are among the 1.4 million-square-foot mall’s anchor tenants. It also has an Apple store, P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory.

The construction plans will likely include a smaller L.L. Bean to make room for the new tenants, Thompson says. At about 15,000 square feet, the outdoor clothing and recreation store will be about half the size. 

The mall’s expansion is one component of Columbia’s long-term redevelopment plan that calls for more open, walkable space so it resembles something like Reston, Va.

“The vision is to create a more urbanized area,” Thompson says. “The mall is a key component of downtown.”

The county’s planning board will hold a hearing on the mall’s expansion. The mall plans must also go through the county’s design advisory panel. 

Writer: Julekha Dash; [email protected]
Sources: Michelle Jose, Mall in Columbia; Mark Thompson, Howard County 
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