General Growth Properties, Inc.
CHICAGO, Illinois (Feb. 3, 2010) – By unanimous vote and following one of the most extensive community processes ever carried out by a development firm, the County Council in Howard County, Md., Monday approved a 30-year master plan for downtown Columbia. The legislation creates one of the largest long-term development opportunities in the history of General Growth Properties (GGP), which controls most of the 390 acres affected.
Over the life of the development project, the approved plan involves as much as 13 million square feet of retail, commercial, residential, hotel and cultural development. The plan emphasizes smart growth, environmental sustainability and walkability.
“This plan combines the insights of the community with those of world-class planning and design experts,” said Tom Nolan, president and chief operating officer of GGP. “We believe this development will represent a global model for smart growth design, and a model as well for how such plans should be devised and improved in full collaboration with the community.”
“For the people of Howard County and the state of Maryland,” Nolan continued, “this means the 21st century renewal of one of the 20th century’s great places, with an enhanced competitive position for attraction of capital and creation of high-quality jobs. For GGP, this long-sought action gives us a chance to do great things in one of the most promising regions in the country, and grow our business in ways that can enrich thousands of lives. Many of our nationwide properties have untapped value, and Columbia’s is exceptionally significant.”
Greg Hamm, GGP vice president, master planned communities, said, “This accomplishment is the product of countless hours of close collaboration among every interested party in Columbia and Howard County. Residents, business leaders, community advocates and elected officials worked very closely with GGP to ensure a vision of quality, livability, environmental responsibility and economic vitality. It is a privilege to be able to work with such an engaged and thoughtful collection of people.”
Approval of the plan for downtown Columbia is seen by many as the final realization of the original master plan created under the leadership of visionary developer James W. Rouse, whose company founded Columbia in the 1960s on largely undeveloped property and created 10 villages surrounding what was to be a “downtown.” The villages now are home to almost 100,000 people, but downtown development has been limited to The Mall in Columbia and several other commercial and residential projects. The urban core Rouse envisioned has not up to now materialized.
“Rare is the community that is so committed to careful planning and long-term thinking, but here in Columbia we had long, thoughtful deliberations about how Jim Rouse’s vision could be fulfilled here and now. Today may have been the biggest day in Columbia’s continuing story since the first residents arrived in 1967,” Hamm said.
To be accomplished in three phases, the plan calls for up to 5,500 new residential units, 4.3 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.25 million square feet of retail space and 640 hotel rooms at full build-out. It includes renovation of the outdoor performance venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and development of a multi-modal transportation system.
The master plan also has sustainability features, including measurable goals for saving energy and water, improving public transportation, ecology and livability. It will be walkable, feature extensive bike trails and have improved watersheds and storm water management systems. Green technologies and building standards will be utilized.
Columbia, Md., is situated on 14,100 acres between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., just off Interstate 95. The master planned community contains almost 40,000 residential units, more than 5,500 businesses in 26 million square feet of space and provides 63,200 jobs. There is 4.8 million square feet of retail space, including The Mall in Columbia and Gateway Overlook, both GGP retail centers.
Columbia is 15 miles from the downtown Baltimore, and 30 miles from Washington, D.C. Located only 11 miles from Fort George G. Meade, downtown Columbia will benefit from the positive economic impact of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program underway by the Department of Defense. It is expected that approximately 22,000 new jobs will come to Fort Meade in the next five-to-seven years.
GGP currently has ownership interest in, or management responsibility for, over 200 regional shopping malls in 43 states, as well as ownership in planned community developments and commercial office buildings. The Company’s portfolio totals approximately 200 million square feet of retail space and includes over 24,000 retail stores nationwide. The Company’s common stock is currently traded in the over-the-counter securities market operated by Pink OTC Markets Inc. using the symbol GGWPQ.