Howard Magazine - Page 12 - Communities and Housing

Howard Magazine
- Page 12
Communities and Housing

Howard County has a distinct and thriving collection of communities, old and new, stable and growing. In Columbia, nearly a quarter of the land is preserved as open space. Woods, parkland, playgrounds and other public spaces are required by covenant to remain undeveloped.

 

Elsewhere in the county, a farmland preservation program designates certain areas for housing and permanently protects others from development. Newcomers to the county should explore the status of the property in which they are interested. Prospective Columbians should also investigate the Columbia Association property assessment; an annual property owner’s charge and membership fees support Columbia’s recreation and community facilities.

 

Here is a look at some of the communities Howard Countians call home:

 

Columbia

 

Begun in 1967 on 21 square miles of farmland, the planned community of Columbia has grown to a town of around 100,000 people in 10 villages. Developer James W. Rouse’s vision for this “new town” included racial diversity, religious sharing and environmentally conscious development.

 

Each village is built around a village center, giving Columbia a small-town feel. But the city also has amenities small towns can’t match, such as downtown offices, a major shopping mall, extensive recreation facilities, an award-winning dinner theater and a large concert pavilion.

 

Columbia’s downtown continues to be redeveloped by the Howard Hughes Corp., bringing in thousands of new residences and businesses. Plans for an additional 1.5 million square feet of office space, including a 12-story headquarters for a cybersecurity firm and more than 2,000 residences, are underway in the Merriweather District, billed as the first in the country built for automated self-parking cars.

 

The Howard County Economic Authority is coordinating the development of the nearby Columbia Gateway business park into an innovative mixed-use district with easy access to the town center. As the nonprofit Downtown Arts and Culture Commission continues to increase artistic and cultural activities in Columbia, developers hope to make downtown a walkable tech hub as well as an attractive place to live, work and play.

 

Clarksville and Highland

 

Luxurious houses and large developments sit alongside farmers’ fields in this section of the county. Growing Clarksville is the site of River Hill, Columbia’s 10th and final village, with a growing number of restaurants, shops and businesses. Clarksville Commons, a town square-style complex recognized for its sustainable design by the U.S. Green Business Council, opened in the heart of Clarksville last spring. It includes the county’s first and only food hall, which opened last summer.

 

Meanwhile, at Highland’s more rural intersection, you’ll find a community market, a tavern, a pet groomery and a variety of other small businesses in new and well-established retail space.

 

Elkridge

 

Once a bustling port on the Patapsco River and one of the first settled areas in what is