Howard Hughes Corp. Nabs 2 Maryland Towers

Both properties offer ample potential for redevelopment, including office, retail and multifamily projects.

Columbia, Md.—The Howard Hughes Corp. continues to amass a portfolio chock-full of development opportunities in the suburban Baltimore town of Columbia, Md., with the acquisition of two office properties. In transactions totaling nearly $40 million, the real estate company snapped up The American City Building and One North Mall, two downtown towers offering an aggregate 220,000 square feet of office space—and loads of potential.

Downtown Columbia Streetscape

Downtown Columbia Streetscape

With the new purchases under its belt, HHC has mixed-use on its mind, and it’s a good time to have such thoughts. “Columbia remains one of the healthiest submarkets,” Chris Bennett, principal with MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate, notes in the services firm’s third quarter 2016 report. “Mixed-use projects remain strong in this submarket as they are in others, with both downtown Columbia and Maple Lawn reaping the benefits of the ‘Live, Work, Play’ atmosphere.”

Columbia sits 20 miles outside Baltimore, but if HHC has anything to do with it, the master-planned community won’t be eclipsed by its big-name neighbor. Acquiring the two office assets dovetails with HHC’s role as master developer of 391 acres included in the 14 million-square-foot Downtown Columbia Plan.

Located at 10227 Wincopin Circle in the Lakefront District of downtown Columbia, the nine-story ACB made its debut in 1964, featuring roughly 120,000 square feet of space. HHC has big plans for the $16.5 million property and its adjacent surface parking lot, as the site can accommodate as much as 1.5 million square feet of additional density, including multifamily, retail and restaurant space.

One Mall North, sited a half-mile from ACB at 10025 Governor Warfield Parkway, carried a price tag of $22.3 million. Unlike the Wincopin building, which would be demolished to make room for new development, the 97,500-square-foot, four-story One Mall North has a full tenant roster, with nary a square-foot available for lease. But, there is room for more. The 43-year-old building and accompanying surface parking space occupy a total of five acres, offering ample land for construction. HHC envisions office, retail and multifamily offerings, per market demand.

Office accommodations play a key role in HHC’s endeavors. “We have high expectations for the continued growth of Downtown Columbia, and to date, several vibrant companies have chosen to relocate to our community,” David Weinreb, CEO of The Howard Hughes Corp., said in a prepared statement. “We continue to generate significant interest from a variety of businesses as we grow the employment opportunities in the heart of Downtown Columbia. Our goal is to find additional companies that will thrive in this highly educated, abundant and expanding labor pool.”

Currently, 10 percent of the Downtown Columbia Plan has delivered or is in the construction phase.