Howard Council Passes $90M TIF, Joint Recommendations on Affordable Housing for Downtown Columbia
The Howard County Council has approved $90 million in tax increment financing (TIF) to fund public infrastructure improvements in the Merriweather District – the crescent of land surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion. The move is part of the 30-year blueprint for the revitalization and redevelopment of Downtown Columbia, which will be developed by Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC).
The Merriweather District is part of the plan approved by the county council in 2010 to bring a vibrant, walkable center to Columbia. It is intended to become the “Center of Culture and Commerce” for Howard County. Phase I will include 1 million square feet of commercial office space, 750 residential apartment units and 250,000 square feet of street retail. As community developer, HHC will invest $2.2 billion in the redevelopment district created by the legislation.
The county council also approved legislation that will deliver 900 units of affordable housing within the 391 acres earmarked for redevelopment. The affordable housing plan is the product of collaboration with Howard County, the Howard County Housing Commission, the Downtown Columbia Housing Corp. and HHC. Seven hundred forty-four units of new residential density were added to the 5,500 residential units already approved as part of the Downtown Columbia Plan to accommodate the affordable housing.
The TIF includes $90 million approved in Phase I for a public garage intended to provide a permanent parking solution for Merriweather Post Pavilion, roads and other public improvements. Howard County will issue TIF bonds to generate funds for construction. The debt service on the bonds will be repaid by incremental taxes from the new Merriweather District development.
The incremental property taxes from the new development also will be set aside for major public projects supporting Downtown Columbia including a public elementary school, a fire station, an arts center, a transit center, a central library and transportation improvements. More than $407 million in net tax revenues will be available to the county’s general fund for use elsewhere in various parts of Howard County in addition to the repayment of the bond debt services, county capital and operating costs and set-asides.
Statement From Kittleman on Passage of Affordable Housing, TIF Legislation
“Passage of the affordable housing and tax increment financing (TIF) legislative package is a tremendous step forward for Downtown Columbia, helping to move the 2010 Downtown Columbia Plan closer to reality.
“I commend the County Council, County staff, Howard County Housing Commission, Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation, Howard Hughes Corporation, Merriweather Post Pavilion supporters, Downtown Columbia Arts and Cultural Commission and countless others who have given their time, energy, ideas and expertise to develop the best plan possible.
“Passing this comprehensive legislative package will guarantee the development of affordable housing for residents of all income levels, as well as the construction of critical infrastructure, including a public parking garage to support the growing Downtown.
“Tonight, we are one step closer to the development of a vibrant, urban downtown, as we prepare for nearly 13 million square feet of new commercial, residential and retail space. The TIF will ensure development proceeds in a coordinated, timely manner, putting in place needed infrastructure, such as the parking garage, roadway improvements, stormwater management and water and sewer lines.
“As development moves ahead, the County now will be able to keep up with planned growth and provide support for a new arts and cultural center, library, fire station, transit center and elementary school. This package ensures a bright future for Downtown Columbia and its many amenities, including Merriweather Post Pavilion.”
Governor Names Former Howard County Police Chief as New Sheriff
Gov. Larry Hogan announced his appointment of Bill McMahon as Howard County sheriff, effective Nov. 10. McMahon replaces James Fitzgerald, who resigned last month following allegations of racism, sexism and discriminatory actions toward employees who did not support his political campaign.
McMahon most recently served as acting executive director of the Maryland Police & Correctional Training Commissions, and as director of the Commissions’ Leadership Development Institute.
“Bill McMahon’s distinguished service and extensive law enforcement experience make him the best choice to serve and protect the citizens of Howard County,” said Hogan. “[He] has a keen understanding of law enforcement at every level, and I am confident he will be a strong leader for Howard County.”
McMahon previously served Howard County as chief of police from 2006 to 2014. “I am honored and humbled to be appointed by Gov. Hogan to be the sheriff of Howard County,” he said. “As a 30-year resident of the county, I am deeply committed to upholding our laws and working to ensure the safety of all citizens of our county and our great state.”
Overnight, Temporary Closure of Route 198 Near NSA Set for Tomorrow Night at 10
The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) will temporarily close a section of Route 198 (Laurel-Fort Meade Road) at Bald Eagle Drive
in Anne Arundel County on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 10 p.m. The temporary closure and detour is needed for utility work. Weather permitting, crews will open all lanes by 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.
During work, utility contractors will use a crane to pull cables from one side of Route 198 to the other, as well as place new cables into new conduits. This work is part of area utility upgrades.
Residents and businesses will have access to their properties while the utility work is being completed. Drivers should plan extra commuting time during construction and slowdown in the work zone. To get the latest travel information in real-time, log onto www.md511.org
. Those who have questions may contact the SHA District 5 Office in Annapolis at 410-841-1000.
CSX Bridge to Close on Route 175 in Anne Arundel This Weekend
On the weekend of Nov. 18, Clark Construction Group and CSX Transportation will close the railroad bridge on Route 175 (Jessup Road) between Wigley Avenue and Dorsey Run Road
, in Jessup, to repair and improve the structure. The road will be closed and traffic detoured beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, until 5 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, weather permitting.
During the upgrades, workers will raise the under-clearance of the bridge, repair structural steel, repave the bridge approaches and improve drainage in the project area. The work will extend the life of the structure and improve the ride quality for the nearly 20,000 motorists who use that section of Route 175 each day.
Kittleman, HCEDA Release Economic Impact Study for Ellicott City Flood
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) have released results of a study analyzing the economic impact of the flash flood in Historic Ellicott City on July 30. The study, commissioned by the HCEDA and conducted by the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, examined economic contributions of the downtown Ellicott City Main Street corridor prior to the flood and estimated economic losses as a result of the event.
The report highlights that the flood caused a reduction in economic activity of $67.2 million, reduced labor income of $27.2 million, a loss of 151 jobs and a decrease in county government revenue of as much as $1.3 million.
“Since the flood hit, our priorities have been safety first, then getting the street reopened as quickly as possible for residents and business owners,” said Kittleman. “Clearly, we expected a huge economic impact to both businesses and the county due to this devastation. The goal now is to rebuild and rebound. We’ve made tremendous progress, with 44 businesses that have already opened and another 28 planning to reopen over the next few weeks. Through a combination of tax credits, fee waivers, expedited reviews, financing and other support, the county is committed to minimizing the negative economic impact as much as possible.”
The study also examined the payback period, or return on investment, of future flood mitigation improvements that may be undertaken by the county. The analysis estimates a payback period of 4.3 years for every $10 million spent on improvements and reports that every $1 spent on mitigation saves an average of $4.
HCGH Redevelops Diabetes Program
Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) redeveloped its diabetes education program with new classes and a new location, referral process and price structure designed to help patients, caregivers and families become better educated about diabetes management. The program launch this fall coincides with the American Diabetes Association’s American Diabetes Month in November, which draws attention to the 29 million Americans with diabetes – one in every 11 Americans. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death, more than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
In response, HCGH is introducing new diabetes education classes, including a course about injectables for patients newly administering medications. Other classes focus on prevention and prediabetes, as well as gestational diabetes for expecting mothers. Basic and comprehensive diabetes courses, in addition, accommodate newly diagnosed and established diabetics.
The program offers new class dates and options while continuing to provide individual counseling. Classes are priced affordably – similar or less than insurance co-payments – and are no longer covered by insurance.
The redeveloped diabetes program takes place at the hospital’s Wellness Center in the Medical Pavilion, which is located at 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia, adjacent to the main hospital campus. For more information, visit www.hcgh.org/diabetes
Howard County Welcome Center Reopens
Howard County Tourism & Promotion has announced that the Howard County Welcome Center, located at 8267 Main Street in Old Ellicott City, reopened yesterday, Nov. 14, at 10 a.m. This is the first time the Welcome Center has been open since the flood that occurred on July 31.
“The Howard County Tourism Team is very pleased to be back in Old Ellicott City,” said Anthony Cordo, executive director of Howard County Tourism & Promotion. “We’ve been working hard to assist in Ellicott City’s recovery efforts and are looking forward to greeting visitors again.” Cordo also said, “We are very grateful to The Howard Hughes Corp. for providing us temporary space in downtown Columbia and to the Howard County government for their help in getting us back into the Welcome Center.”
The Welcome Center is open Monday-Saturday, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays from noon-5 p.m. It typically accommodates more than 30,000 visitors annually. The reopening is timely, with several major events planned during the holiday season. For more information on the planned events and open businesses in Old Ellicott City, visit www.EllicottCityHolidays.com
Old Ellicott City Celebrates Reopening After Flood on Nov. 26
After community-wide efforts and contributions to rebuild Ellicott City’s historic downtown, Howard County will commemorate those efforts with a day-long celebration on Nov. 26, which is Small Business Saturday. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with remarks from local officials, including a special thank-you to first responders and community members who worked to keep the city safe in the hours just following the floods; and their work to rebuild the area in the aftermath. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the grand reopening of Ellicott City’s historic Main Street.
Some 40 shops and businesses along Main Street will reopen, including Tersiguel’s
, a second-generation French country restaurant; Sweet Elizabeth Jane
and The B&O Railroad Museum
, which is the oldest surviving railroad station in America. Entertainment, activities and live performances by local bands will set a festive tone as Ellicott City once again welcomes visitors to its downtown.
On July 30, Ellicott City was dealt a devastating blow when nearly six inches of rain fell on the area in less than two hours, causing a destructive flash flood. Without warning, shop and restaurant owners, pedestrians and shoppers were forced to take immediate refuge against the rushing waters. Many buildings and shops were destroyed. Two people lost their lives in the flood, and many others were trapped inside local businesses, including two shop owners who were forced to the rooftops until they were rescued.
More than half of downtown Ellicott City will reopen in November, with nearly all local businesses expected to be back in operation by the end of the year.
Kittleman Announces Mid-December Launch of New Snow Plow Tracker
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced the county will beta launch a new cutting-edge snow plow tracker in mid-December. Purchased from AT&T and BSM Technologies, the tracker replaces a system acquired more than 10 years ago.
Howard County will install Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVLs) in 152 Department of Public Works (DPW) Bureau of Highway vehicles, including 135 pieces of snow removal equipment. The software downloads a digital snapshot from each AVL every 10 seconds, providing a comprehensive and constantly updated display of snow removal progress.
As an additional enhancement, Howard County is also purchasing 25 “plug and play” AVLs that can be installed in contractor vehicles, and that data also will be fed into the snow plow tracker to present a more accurate picture of snow removal progress. The cost to the county is $32,400 to develop the mobile-friendly website and $12,000 annually in maintenance and support costs.
The snow plow tracker is one component of a broader initiative to install AVLs in a fleet of 241 vehicles that also will include the Department of Inspections, Licensing and Permits and the Bureau of Facilities. Once launched, the tracker can be accessed at www.HowardCountySnowTracker.org
Vendors Sought for Howard County’s 9th Annual WomenFest
Howard County’s Department of Community Resources and Services invites businesses that offer products or services that promote women’s health, wellness, technology, fashion and beauty to register for exhibit space at the 2017 WomenFest. Back for its ninth year, the event will be held on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood, located at 2400 Route 97 in Cooksville. Admission and parking are free.
Coordinated by the Department’s Office on Aging and Independence, last year’s WomenFest attracted more than 600 participants and 100 vendors and exhibitors.
Vendor and exhibitor applications, sponsorship opportunities and full event details are available at www.howardcountymd.gov/WomenFest . Applications may be faxed to 410-313-5950 or mailed to WomenFest 2017, c/o Donna Tugwell, Howard County Office on Aging and Independence, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 211, Columbia, MD 21046.
From MarylandReporter.com …
Maryland grows more politically polarized, like rest of U.S.: While Maryland voted for the Democratic candidate in 2016 for the seventh straight presidential election, a deepening Republican loyalty in more rural areas of the state indicates increased polarization throughout the state. While liberal-leaning urban areas helped Hillary Clinton secure Maryland’s 10 electoral votes and Democratic candidates won all but one U.S. House seat on Election Day, the state’s liberal base didn’t perform according to expectations. Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2016/11/09/maryland-grows-more-politically-polarized-like-rest-of-u-s