The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) announced plans to invest approximately $325 million in the Lakefront District in Downtown Columbia, launching the next phase of the city’s rejuvenation. The new development will include a state-of-the-art medical office building, housing options, retail offerings and enhanced connectivity to the natural environment, all planned to epitomize the “city in a garden” aesthetic envisioned by Columbia founder Jim Rouse.

The first project of the new investment is the $45.8 million, four-story, 86,000-square-foot South Lake medical office building. It will rise along the south shore of Lake Kittamaqundi adjacent to Whole Foods Market in a walkable waterfront setting.

HHC has worked closely with Studio Red Architects to make wellness a hallmark of the new building. With a focus on environmental impact and the health of occupants, the building features a boardwalk-style public terrace that offers sweeping views of the lake, and space for exercise classes and other health and fitness activities.

The building is expected to achieve LEED Platinum status, the highest level of LEED certification, as well as Fitwel certification.

Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland (OACM), a division of The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics – the largest integrated group of doctors and specialists in the region – will occupy approximately 20 percent of the new building when it relocates its Columbia Office to the South Lakefront District upon completion in early 2024. OACM will join other health-related businesses in the Lakefront District such as The Pearl, a modern spa & boutique, and leading medical technology company NuVasive.

Other health and wellness-related organizations in Downtown Columbia include MedStar Health’s headquarters, Healthcare Management Solutions, Welldoc, Sharecare, Consortium Health Plans, Vaya Pharma, Medisolv, Resolution Health and others, as well as nearby Johns Hopkins Howard County General Hospital.

Adding to the diversity and vitality of the southern end of the Lakefront District is the anticipated debut of The Collective, a dining and entertainment concept coming soon in 2022, pairing Offshore restaurant and Encore music venue. Also opening soon in 2022 is a unique nonprofit venture called The 3rd, an incubator supporting women-of-color entrepreneurs.

Future development envisioned for the north end includes three new residential buildings offering a total of 675 units plus supporting street retail, better pedestrian and cycling connections and enhanced green spaces to transform the current surface parking lot at the north end of the Lakefront District.

The high-rise apartments will be constructed atop an underground parking structure and will be surrounded by outdoor amenity areas, including a promenade connecting to the areas bordering Lake Kittamaqundi as well as a public square. Neighborhood retail will be located on the ground level of the residences. As part of the project, Wincopin Circle will be extended and reconfigured as a pedestrian-oriented street connecting activities throughout the Lakefront District. Phase 1 of the Lakefront North development is anticipated to be an investment in excess of $280 million during the next several years.