Howard Hughes Hires JBG Smith’s Kristi Smith to Lead Downtown Columbia Plans


Kristi Smith, a 20-year veteran of real estate in the Washington, D.C., region, has joined Howard Hughes Corporation as its new president of the company’s Maryland operations.

In her new role, Smith will lead Howard Hughes’ 30-year, $5 billion redevelopment plan for Downtown Columbia

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“As a longtime resident of the greater Washington, D.C., area, I have seen the transformative work that Howard Hughes has driven in the Maryland region, watching the growth and success of Downtown Columbia over the recent years,” Smith told Commercial Observer. “It is exciting to now have the chance to lead this rejuvenation going forward. With an active development pipeline set to continue rejuvenating the city’s urban core, it is an incredibly exciting time to be joining Howard Hughes and our dedicated Maryland team.” 

There is a strong public-private partnership between Howard County and Howard Hughes, and Smith says one of her immediate goals is to work with her team in connecting with community leaders and various stakeholders, reinforcing the collaboration already in place. 

“There are many projects in the works — including 10285 Lakefront, Downtown Columbia’s premier medical office building delivering in spring of 2024, as well as the Lakefront North multifamily development,” Smith said.

Smith most recently served as executive vice president of development with Bethesda-based JBG Smith.

“Although JBG Smith’s work with Amazon on its HQ2 is quite notable, I’m also incredibly proud to have led the development teams executing on both large-scale multifamily developments and smaller-scale placemaking interventions in National Landing,” she said. “I expect the reimagining of National Landing will have a long-lasting effect on the region for decades to come.” 

She describes Downtown Columbia as an “exciting place” right now, with an increase in demand for businesses looking to relocate to, or add offices in, the area.

“We anticipate even more acceleration in the market across the board in the years to come,” Smith said, adding that Howard Hughes is about 13 years into the 30-year development plan. “There is great demand to be met, and Howard Hughes has the active development pipeline and financial strength to execute its vision of long-term, sustainable growth that I am extremely proud to drive forward in Downtown Columbia.”

Keith Loria can be reached at