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John E. DeWolf III, the man who has led the implementation of the Downtown Columbia Plan to revitalize the center of the community, passed away Wednesday after a more than two-year battle with cancer. Despite his illness, DeWolf continued to lead the Downtown Columbia project until a recent hospitalization. DeWolf joined The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) in 2011 and was serving as HHC’s Regional President of Columbia, heading up the multi-billion dollar redevelopment project to transform 391 acres into a thriving and more urban Downtown Columbia where people could live, work and play.   The reimagining of Columbia’s 50-year center was begun with DeWolf’s respectful renovation of the Frank Gehry-designed former Rouse Company headquarters building and by the recruitment of Whole Foods Market as the anchor tenant.  Among the highlights of his tenure, DeWolf oversaw a partnership with regional apartment developer Kettler and the construction of The Metropolitan, the first new Downtown residential building in over a decade. Its success helped establish Downtown Columbia as worthy of investment and brought industry leaders such as Medstar Health, Pearson Education and the Tenable cyber security firm to select Downtown Columbia for their headquarters. Of all his local accomplishments, DeWolf, an ardent music lover, was proudest of the large scale renovation and transfer of ownership of concert venue Merriweather Post Pavilion to the nonprofit Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission. Until his illness, he was a regular concertgoer and enjoyed taking visitors to the pavilion. “John DeWolf was an inspirational leader,” said Greg Fitchitt, Senior Vice President for Development.  “He loved construction and building itself energized him, but he also had vision far beyond that of most people and had great expectations for Downtown Columbia. His example is his legacy for those of us on the Downtown Columbia team. He will be missed but not forgotten.” For the full press release about the passing of John DeWolf, click here.

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