Columbia, Maryland is one of America's most celebrated “New Towns” founded by the development visionary Jim Rouse in the early 1960s. Though Rouse envisioned Columbia to become a real city, 40 years after its founding it lacked urban form and a functioning, sustainable downtown.
Before founding New City Enterprises, Greg Hamm served as the Regional Vice President of Master Planned Communities for General Growth Properties ("GGP™). GGP succeed the Rouse Company as the Master Developer of Columbia in 2004. Hamm was brought into this company and position to complete the re-planning and rezoning of downtown Columbia, and to manage its ongoing land development business.
A process for re-planning and amending Rouse's master plan and the underlying land use began in 2005. The downtown Columbia revitalization plan called for a mix of uses including 5,500 new residential units - and 8 million feet of new office and retail space - necessary to bring life back to heart of the community.
When Hamm's team began in January 2008 the project had become quite controversial with community members and elected officials expressing concern that the planned changes would alter the fabric of Columbia while straying too far from Rousian values.
Despite the challenging environment, under Hamm’s leadership the planning process continued. Hamm drawing on community input and support to inform the final design elements and bridge the gap between community need and the James Rouse vision. The final plan received unanimous bipartisan approval in February 2010 and has since won multiple awards for excellence in sustainable planning and smart growth.
Most importantly, the revitalization of Downtown Columbia is well underway.
Merriweather Post Pavilion Photo Attribution: Chris Stapleton Concert by Steve Kwak, Maryland GovPics Flickr
Images of Flower Square and Concept: Design Collective