The line in the beloved baseball film, “Field of Dreams,” included a famous saying: “If you build it, he will come.”
The plans for Downtown Columbia follow a similar idea.
Downtown is already home to attractions like The Mall in Columbia, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Howard County Library’s Central Branch, Whole Foods and Haven on the Lake; the restaurants along Lake Kittamaqundi; the lakefront itself; and other places to eat, shop and work. New retail, residences and office space continue to come online.
One need only take a quick drive around to see the construction that’s been completed or is underway.
Yet, it’s not solely the buildings themselves that will attract people. All of these pieces will work together in creating a vibrant downtown core, making Downtown Columbia even more of a destination. And there are other efforts and events that are playing a role.
The Downtown Columbia Partnership hosted Festive Fridays at the lakefront last year and will bring the series back in late 2016. The themed family-friendly nights in 2015 were produced by Columbia Festival of the Arts and included Family Friday, Fido Friday and Fire & Ice Friday. The partnership will bring back its Discover Downtown Columbia 5K race and 1-mile fun run for the third straight year. The course has taken runners through old and new landmarks downtown, including across the stage at Merriweather.
There’s also the Downtown Columbia Eats loyalty dining app, which allows individuals to earn rewards while eating at participating restaurants.
This summer will bring more arts programming from Columbia Association (CA) and Columbia Festival of the Arts. The summer festival, Silk Road Stories, will run from June 10 through June 26. CA will bring back its weekly Lakefront Wednesdays Lunchtime Concert Series for nine weeks beginning on June 22. CA’s annual Lakefront Summer Festival will once again provide great movies and concerts on most evenings, as well as weekly Dancin’ Under the People Tree sessions and several Teen Open Mic nights.
Merriweather kicks off its concert season in late April with the M3 Rock Festival. Wine in the Woods will return in May. The Chrysalis amphitheater is expected to open in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in early 2017.
If you build it, they will come. They are already coming to Downtown Columbia. As we continue to pursue Jim Rouse’s dream of a true downtown, they will come in even greater numbers and stay, moving from one location or activity to another.
Downtown Columbia should not only be a place to go. It should be a destination to experience.
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