The Downtown Columbia Partnership commissioned Sage Policy Group to study the economic and fiscal implications associated with implementation of the Downtown Columbia Plan (the Plan). In 2010, Howard County adopted the Plan with the goal of revitalizing the downtown area with a diverse assortment of housing and business opportunities and a plethora of cultural, civic, recreational, and educational amenities.
The Plan, which was most recently amended in 2016, encompasses up to 4.3 million square feet of new office space, 1.3 million square feet of new retail space, more than 6,200 new residential units (many of which are below market-rate units), and 640 hotel rooms. Note that this is supplemental to the existing built environment that currently comprises Downtown Columbia.
Sage found that Downtown Columbia’s redevelopment is providing Howard County with a new source of tax base while strengthening public infrastructure. Below are our key analytical findings:
- Downtown Columbia’s redevelopment will support more than 10,300 jobs on an ongoing basis in Howard County at the completion of Merriweather District and more than 43,000 jobs in the County at full-build-out;
- Upon full build-out and occupancy, the income associated with jobs supported in Howard County by the redevelopment will support $2.5 billion in wage/salary/proprietor income;
- Even when accounting for both: 1) the cost of local government service provision and 2) TIF debt service payments, net fiscal impacts remain positive throughout the redevelopment period under the most conservative of assumptions and using two discrete fiscal impact estimation methods. By 2048, the net fiscal benefit to the County will be in the range of $25-$31million/annum.
- Cumulative positive fiscal impacts for Howard County associated with the redevelopment of downtown Columbia will total $389-$511 million between 2020 and 2048 once one accounts for the cost of local government services and debt service associated with tax increment financing.