Saturday, May 9, 2015

CA HQ Redux

Let's have a little fun this morning. How about a little game with Columbia real estate?

Here is the current Columbia Association Headquarters. It's known locally as the Teachers Building. It is centrally located near the People Tree, the Lakefront, and across from the Mall. At the moment it's an interesting hybrid of offices facing one way and Clyde's facing the other.

Here's the future Columbia Association Headquarters. It is in Owen Brown, I think, near the emissions testing center.

Let's add another piece to the game board: the Columbia Flier/Patuxent Publishing Building, designed by local architect Bob Moon. Dennis Lane wrote about it here in the piece "Flier Building Going Dark." The Flier Building languished without a buyer since that time, until the County announced plans to buy it as the future home of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.

To those of us who wanted to see this iconic piece of Columbia history and architecture preserved, it seemed like a wonderful possibility for creative reuse. And, perhaps it really is, but elections change many things and current County Executive Allan Kittleman announced that he is looking to unload it along with a bunch of real estate in an effort to deal with budget shortfalls.

Okay, I think we've got our board all set up.

If you read the comments in Dennis Lane's piece you will see a great deal of goodwill towards the Flier Building. And in fact someone suggests it as a future home for Columbia Association Headquarters. I still think that is a brilliant suggestion. The choice of such a significant building and the downtown location would give CA a home to be proud of.

And the Teachers Building? Truly it's just blocking Lakefront Views. Just tear down everything that isn't Clyde's and open up the vista. Maybe give Clyde's a rooftop deck. Or--turn the space into a prom-worthy banquet and event facility. Don't many of our kids start out prom night with a trip to the Lakefront for photos? Why shouldn't they be able to have their prom right there?

Remember--this is a game. I am fully aware of the realities of life. CA has already signed a lease on the new HQ. The Flier Building will cost more to renovate than its purchase price. No one in the world is going to tear down lakefront property to give people a better view.

But it is my game. And on a Saturday morning in May, it's an awful lot of fun.


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