Between the sleek new apartments, Class A office developments, eclectic restaurants and retailers, a one-of-a-kind hotel, extensive entertainment offerings, and access to miles of trails and greenspaces, a new vision for a live-work-play community has materialized in downtown Columbia.

In Columbia, a former 22-acre dirt parking lot has been transformed into a live-work-play community with new apartments, office towers and a wealth of amenities.  Photo courtesy of Howard Hughes Corporation.

The Merriweather District – designed by JP2 Architects and winner of the Best Mixed Use Award –  transformed a former dirt parking lot into a 22-acre mixed used centerpiece of the community. A certified LEED Neighborhood Design, Merriweather delivers a dynamic, walkable community of 1 million square feet of new office space, 1,000 new residential units, a new central library, street-level retail space, and expansive amenities and design features, including Color Burst Park, an ice skating rink, a summer splash pad, space for outdoor yoga and fitness classes, and extensive landscaping dotted with fountains and art. The development, understandably, has attracted renown retailers and restaurants as well as high occupancy rates in its office and residential buildings.

A $28 million renovation turned an aged property into the spa-like Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel. Photo courtesy of Costello Construction.

A short walk from the Merriweather District, Costello Construction transformed an aged two-star Sheraton property into the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel — a four-star Marriott Autograph Collection property and winner of the Best Community Impact Award. The $28 million renovation added two wings and 76 uniquely appointed guest rooms to the hotel, completely remodeled all existing tower rooms and other interior spaces, and added 13-foot wide terraces to all lakefront units. The renovation included the addition of a 900-square-foot penthouse suite, a new rooftop pool, a 150-seat restaurant, exclusive bar/lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, state of the art fitness center and an expansive rear terrace overlooking the lake.

“The hotel is high end and beautiful. It’s spa-like and a place you would want to hang out,” said Nicole Wilhelm Smith, co-chair of the NAIOP Maryland Awards of Excellence Committee. “With the renovation of the Merriweather Post Pavilion and the development of the Merriweather District, that area could become a destination. You go to Merriweather for a show, have supper in a great restaurant and treat yourself to a getaway night at a really nice hotel.”