The Mall in Columbia

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The Mall in Columbia
Logo of The Mall in Columbia.png
Location 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Maryland, U.S.
Coordinates 39°12′54″N 76°51′40″W / 39.215°N 76.861°W / 39.215; -76.861Coordinates: 39°12′54″N 76°51′40″W / 39.215°N 76.861°W / 39.215; -76.861
Opening date 1971
Developer The Rouse Company
Owner General Growth Properties
No. of stores and services 202
No. of anchor tenants 5 (6th under construction)
Total retail floor area 1,400,000 sq ft (130,000 m2)
No. of floors 2 (1 in Sears, 3 in Macy’s)
Parking 7,200 spaces, including 3 parking garages
Public transit access Bus transport RTA Central Maryland bus: 401, 404, 405, 406, 407, 408, 501, 503
The Mall In Columbia
 The Mall in Columbia, interior view, original section, c. 1979
The Mall in Columbia, interior view, original section, c. 1979

The Mall in Columbia, also known as the Columbia Mall, is the central shopping mall for the planned community of Columbia, Maryland, United States. It has five anchor department stores (Sears, JCPenney, Nordstrom, Macy's, and Lord & Taylor) and over 200 specialty stores. Restaurants include PF Chang's, Maggiano's Little Italy and Panera Bread. It includes a 14-screen AMC Theatres.[1] The mall is located in the Town Center area of the city and attracts shoppers from surrounding counties in Maryland.


The Mall in Columbia, interior view, original section

Architect Frank Gehry designed The Rouse Company Columbia exhibit building, and was initially selected to design the neighboring mall centerpiece. Gehry was later rejected by Rouse for lack of experience, and the firm of Cope, Linder, & Walmsley was contracted for the project.[2]

The Mall opened in 1971 with two major anchor stores: Hochschild Kohn's (which was replaced by Hecht's in the mid-1970s) and Woodward & Lothrop (a.k.a. Woodies, which closed in late 1995 and was replaced by JCPenney in July 1996[3]), as well as a McCrory's and Lerner's, which were minor anchors.[citation needed] Howard Research and Development was probed shortly after opening for purchasing bulk energy contracts on electricity while charging market rates to tenants.[4]

Of the original 102 stores, those still in operation at the mall as of March 2017 include: Edward Arthur Jeweler, GNC, and Motherhood Maternity.[5][6]

The Mall has undergone several major expansions since its opening, with the Sears wing opening in 1981, along with an expansion of approximately 370,000 square feet (34,000 m2) and about 55 specialty stores.[7]

In 1997, the Hecht's store (now Macy's) added a third level. The Lord & Taylor wing opened in November 1998 (along with two new parking garages); the Nordstrom wing opened in September 1999. Also at this time, 20 to 30 stores opened in a new 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) wing near Hecht's. The interior was renovated by replacing the floors, lighting, skylights and air conditioning units by the end of 1998.[8]

A Cheesecake Factory restaurant opened on The Mall property near the movie theaters in late 2005. The Mall's Hecht's store became Macy's on September 9, 2006.[9]

The Mall is operated by General Growth Properties, which acquired it from the Rouse Company in 2004.[10]

 Poinsettia Tree c. 1979
Poinsettia Tree c. 1979

A December 2007 decision by local General Growth Properties managers to abandon The Mall's traditional "Poinsettia Tree" Christmas display sparked a grassroots movement by several hundred Columbia residents for the return of the display which had come to be viewed as a local tradition. The story was picked up by The Washington Post,[10] and the publicity led mall managers to reverse their decision and return the popular display in 2008.[11] Part of what makes the "tree" unique is its watering system and plant specifications.[12] In 2017, the large water fountain within which the "tree" had been installed each year, was replaced with at-grade flooring.

In early 2013, construction began on an addition to the outdoor "Plaza at The Mall in Columbia" to replace the L.L. Bean store (which closed in May 2013) with additional stores and restaurants.[citation needed] The first phase of the outdoor expansion opened in November 2013. On April 28, 2015, Howard County Police announced an increased presence at village centers and malls following protests and riots[13] the day before that affected General Growth's Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore.

Key dates[edit]

  • 1971: The Mall in Columbia opens in August.[14]
  • 1981: A new wing that includes a second food court and Sears is added.[14]
  • 1998: Lord & Taylor opens along with two new parking garages.[14]
  • 1999: A new wing that includes 40 stores, a third parking garage, and Nordstrom is added.[14]
  • 2000: L.L. Bean opens outside of the mall. It is the first store to open in "The Plaza at The Mall in Columbia" and only the third retail location for the Maine-based outdoors catalog company.[14]
  • 2001: P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Z'Tejas (replaced by Uno Chicago Grill in 2004), and Champps Restaurant & Bar (now closed) opens in "The Plaza at The Mall in Columbia".[14]
  • 2003: AMC Theatres opens a 14-screen movie theater next to Champps Restaurant.[14]
  • 2005: The Cheesecake Factory opens next to AMC Theatres.
  • 2013: L.L. Bean closes and makes way for an expansion of the Mall's outdoor plaza.
  • 2014: 70,000 square-foot outdoor expansion to the mall opens.[15]
  • 2017: The center court fountain is removed, and Sears downsizes to the first floor.[16]


2014 shooting[edit]

On January 25, 2014, at around 11:15 a.m., 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar entered a Zumiez store on the second floor of the mall, armed with a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, and fired six to nine shots, killing two employees—21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson—and injuring five others before committing suicide. Police arrived within two minutes to find an extensive amount of ammunition and crude explosive devices next to Aguilar's body, which were disabled safely. All of the injured were treated and later discharged from the Howard County General Hospital.[17][18][19][20]

2015 shooting[edit]

Former Jessup correctional officer Hong Young was arrested on March 2, 2015, on suspicion of shooting at the Columbia AMC theater building and gunfire incidents at the National Security Agency, Arundel Mills Costco, Inter-county Connector and Laurel Walmart.[21][22]


  1. ^ "Directory". The Mall in Columbia. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  2. ^ Joshua Olsen (April 2004). Better Places, Better Lives: A Biography of James Rouse. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-8742-0919-8.
  3. ^ "SEVEN J.C. PENNEYS TO OPEN IN D.C. AREA", Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia), News; Pg. 04D, July 16, 1996
  4. ^ John Walsh (22 September 1972). "Electricity Probe Set in MD". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Bittner, Dave (January 13, 2010). "The Columbia Mall Wayback Machine". HoCoMoJo. Archived from the original on November 28, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Mall in Columbia: Store Directory & Map". General Growth Properties. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  7. ^ O'Neill, Alison. "New Paint, More Space for Area Malls", The Washington Post, p. 1, October 18, 1982
  8. ^ Leibowitz, Elissa."Getting Fancy at the Mall; Columbia Adding Upscale Stores, Parking", The Washington Post, p.1, September 17, 1998
  9. ^ Mui, Ylan Q., "Era Ends With New Beginning;Transformation From Hecht's to Macy's Will Be Completed Today", (a general story about the Hecht's to Macy's transition) The Washington Post, Financial; D01, September 9, 2006
  10. ^ a b Fisher, Marc (December 13, 2007). "In Columbia, Mall Management Doesn't See the Point of Poinsettias". The Washington Post. p. B01. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  11. ^ Broadwater, Jennifer (November 20, 2008). "'Poinsettia tree' is back at the mall". Columbia Flier. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  12. ^ Fisher, Marc (December 24, 2007). "Columbia's Poinsettia Tree: The Inside Story". Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  13. ^ "Howard County Police Increase Presence After Baltimore Riots: Police monitoring mall and village centers as well as assisting in city". Columbia Patch. April 28, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Columbia Mall Timeline". Columbia Flier. September 16, 2004. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  15. ^ "Mall in Columbia holds grand opening for open-air plaza". The Baltimore Sun. October 17, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  16. ^ "Mall in Columbia changes include new retailers, restaurants". Columbia Flier. Tronc. June 19, 2017. Retrieved September 7, 2017. Sears is downsizing to just the first floor.
  17. ^ "Three Dead in Shooting at Maryland Mall; Police Call the Episode Isolated". The New York Times. January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  18. ^ "Chaos described at Maryland mall: 'There's a shooter!'". Los Angeles Times. January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  19. ^ "Shooting at Columbia, Md., mall leaves 3 dead". The Washington Post. January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  20. ^ "Police: 2 store employees, gunman dead at Maryland mall". CNN. January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  21. ^ Bui, Lynh; Firozi, Paulina; Duggan, Paul (4 March 2015). "Five shootings in public places in Maryland said to be linked; 35-year-old charged". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Weathers, Ben (5 March 2015). "Former Jessup corrections officer charged in Maryland shooting spree". The Capital Gazette.

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