16 Dec 2019

New Report Identifies Positive Fiscal Impact of Downtown Columbia Redevelopment

Jean F. Moon

Jean Moon & Associates

(410) 730-0316


Contact: Phillip Dodge

(410) 964-4984

New Report Identifies Positive Fiscal Impact of Downtown Columbia Redevelopment

Just shy of a decade after the unanimous passage of the Downtown Columbia Plan by the Howard County Council, a new report indicates that the redevelopment governed by the plan is “providing Howard County with a new source of tax base while strengthening public infrastructure and without generating significant burdens on school capacity.”

According to the report’s findings, “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.”

“The Economic & Fiscal Implications of Downtown Columbia’s Redevelopment” was commissioned by the Downtown Columbia Partnership and prepared by the Sage Policy Group, Inc. It is intended as a companion to the “Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Report,” published last in September by the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, which assessed progress on the implementation of the plan but did not address its fiscal impacts.

“The County’s monitoring report was enormously useful in understanding the extent of redevelopment and the progress on realizing the Community Enhancements, Programs and Public Amenities (CEPPA) provided by developer The Howard Hughes Corporation,” said Downtown Columbia Partnership Executive Director Phillip Dodge, “but the Partnership’s operating funds are primarily dependent upon an assessment on newly developed commercial property, and we needed to better understand the fiscal impacts for future planning purposes.”

The Downtown Columbia Plan calls for up to 4.3 million square feet of new office space, 1.3 million square feet of new retail space, 6,250 new residential units (900 of which will be below market rate), and 640 hotel rooms.

Key effects of development identified by the report include:

  • Downtown Columbia’s redevelopment will support more than 10,300 jobs on an ongoing basis in Howard County at the completion of the first phase of the 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 development 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 development period. By 2048, the net fiscal benefit each year to the County will be in the range of $25-$31 million/annum.

The Sage study team used IMPLAN economic modeling software, an industry-leading platform for input-output analysis, to calculate all economic impacts.  Fiscal impacts were generated using data sourced from IMPLAN, Howard County, and the Maryland Comptroller’s Office.

The Downtown Columbia Partnership was established to market and promote Downtown Columbia and its businesses, implement beautification projects, sponsor cultural arts programs, support transportation and safety initiatives and other activities that enhance the live, work, play environment envisioned for Downtown Columbia.

For a full copy of the report, see http://www.dtcpartnership.com/about-us/economic-impact/.

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