Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mall to Merriweather Promenade

One of the good things in the proposal for downtown Columbia is a wide promenade from the food court exit of the Mall to Merriweather/Symphony Woods.

This should create a great walking axis if done correctly. If it is just a wide median in a road between office buildings it will fail, but if it is a well done urban park between fully mixed use buildings with restaurants and retail on the ground floor and BOTH office space and residential above then it will create a superb walking axis. Unfortunately the current plan excludes residential from the Corporate Boulevard zone (blue zone in above graphic). This will kill this area at night, by removing eyes from the street and thus making it more likely that crime will occur. Of course the easy fix is to integrate residential units into the buildings in the Corporate Boulevard. The residential units can even have separate entrances from the building if corporate users don't want to share. The developer should love this idea because there is a high demand for residential units right now and no market demand for office space. I would think that the same type of resident that would want to live in the Crescent zone would like to live between Merriweather and the Mall.

In addition to adding residential to keep the zone alive after work hours the promenade will need to have the right landscaping, street art, and benches to draw people to spend time there. Here are some examples:

This is Edmonton, Canada:

This is Prague, Czech Republic:

Both are lively promenades with street art and landscaping that draws people out to enjoy them and are in fully mixed use areas.

As always it is the details that determine the success or failure of the plan.