We are working to build a place for you in the NEW Downtown Columbia
“We look forward to engaging the community around the design of the new Downtown Columbia Branch. Valued by our customers as vibrant community hubs, our libraries are places to come together, connect, and engage through notable author talks, community conversations, book discussions, classes for preschoolers, children, and teens, and more. This new flagship Downtown Columbia Branch, the largest in our system, will enable us to expand our focus to include business and arts, adding to the thriving downtown scene. We eagerly anticipate the opportunities this new space will present not only for new Merriweather District residents but also for all Howard County residents and visitors.”
Tonya Aikens, HCLS President & CEO
The vision for Columbia is of a walkable community where people can live, work, learn, and play (Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Monitoring Report, 2018).
Current development plans and construction will create a bigger and more diverse population center in downtown Columbia. Along with millions of square feet of retail, commercial, and hospitality space, a new mix of market-rate and affordable housing is anticipated to create a vibrant new metropolitan area in the heart of Howard County.
At completion, downtown Columbia will feature 1.25 million SF of retail space, 4.3 million SF office/conference space, 640 hotel rooms, and 6,244 residential units.These new residential units will expand Columbia’s population by a minimum of 15 percent. The mix of housing will attract young professionals, while also offering long-time Howard County residents an opportunity to downsize within their community.
In addition, the plan includes a new connector road directly through the current site of HCLS’ Central Branch, which will be demolished once the new branch is constructed.
In anticipation of the expected new residents and visitors, Howard County Library System engaged G4 Architecture, Research, and Planning, Inc. to update its Master Plan, which calls for a new 100,000 SF Downtown Columbia Branch less than one mile from the current Central Branch, in the proposed Merriweather District.
Envisioned as a regional destination for culture and commerce as well as a vital and vibrant residential community hub, the new Downtown Columbia Branch will anchor the Merriweather District.
The new branch will enable HCLS to expand its curriculum to not only meet current needs but also emerging trends related to education, business, culture, and the arts.
Branch services (e.g., classrooms, meeting space, collection, technology) and staff support spaces will bring together inspiration, learning, performance, and meeting space for experience, discovery, connection, participation, and creation in the following areas:
- Children’s discovery and education
- Language and literacy education
- Workforce development
- Small business / entrepreneur center
- Arts educationThe new Downtown Columbia Branch will be co-located with a mixed-income residential apartment building, operated by the Howard County Housing Commission. It will be situated at one end of a new pedestrian promenade and connect to an existing trailhead, bridging the natural landscape and new cultural center of Howard County.
- November 2019: HCLS and Howard County Housing Commission select Enterprise Community Development to create mixed-income homes and new Downtown Columbia Branch
- January / February 2020: Community forums
- Early 2020: Development team begins the design and financing process
- Late 2021: Construction begins
- 2023: Project completed and HCLS Downtown Columbia Branch opens
- 2024: Current HCLS Central Branch demolished
- Branch size: 100,000 SF
- Budget: $100 million
- Developer: Enterprise Community Development
- General contractors: Costello Construction and Harkins Builders
- Architect: Grimm + Parker