The Mall in Columbia, also known as the Columbia Mall, or The 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. The mall is located in the Town Center area of the city and attracts shoppers from surrounding counties in Maryland.
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.
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), as well as a McCrory's and Lerner's, which were minor anchors. Howard Research and Development was probed shortly after opening for purchasing bulk energy contracts on electricity while charging market rates to tenants.
Of the original 102 stores, those still in operation at the mall as of March 2017 include: Edward Arthur Jeweler, GNC, and Motherhood Maternity.
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.
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.
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.
The Mall is operated by General Growth Properties, which acquired it from the Rouse Company in 2004.
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, and the publicity led mall managers to reverse their decision and return the popular display in 2008. Part of what makes the "tree" unique is its watering system and plant specifications.
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. 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 the day before that affected General Growth's Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore.1971: The Mall in Columbia opens in August. (see below: List of stores in original Columbia Mall)
1981: A new wing that includes a second food court and Sears is added.
1998: Lord & Taylor opens along with two new parking garages.
1999: A new wing that includes 40 stores, a third parking garage, and Nordstrom is added.
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.
2001: P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Z'Tejas (replaced by Uno Chicago Grill in 2004), and Champps Restaurant & Bar opens in "The Plaza at The Mall in Columbia".
2003: AMC Theatres opens a 14-screen movie theater next to Champps Restaurant.
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.
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.
Police searched Aguilar's house, seizing computers, documents and other items, including a journal in which Aguilar allegedly expressed a "general unhappiness" with his life.
Aguilar had previously raced in the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon, and in the Montgomery County Public Schools' senior directory he listed his future plans as Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. He graduated from James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Spring, Maryland, in June 2013.
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.AMC Theatres 63,000 sq ft (5,900 m2), 14 screens – opened December 2003
J. C. Penney – opened 1971 (former Woodward & Lothrop until 1995)
Lord & Taylor – opened 1998
Macy's (3 floors) – opened 1971 (former Hochschild Kohn's until 1975, then Hecht's until 2006)
Nordstrom 173,000 sq ft (16,100 m2) – opened September 1999
Sears – opened 1981
A major hub for the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland is located at the western end of the Columbia Mall, outside of the Sears department store. The bus stop serves eight lines of the RTA system:401Green TO Clary's Forest
404Orange TO Kings Contrivance
405Yellow TO Miller Branch Library
406Red TO Columbia Gateway Drive
407Brown TO Kings Contrivance
408Gold TO Maryland Food Center/Jessup
501Silver TO BWI Airport
503 E TO Laurel Town Centre