The last of three major developments under construction in West County will officially open this morning, complete with speeches and a gift promoting environmental awareness to the invited guests.
Each of the estimated 150 attending the opening of Russett Center will receive a one-year membership to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
"One of the owners thought of the gesture," said Joel Mostrom, president of Curtis F. Peterson Inc., the project managers. "It is another way of us saying, 'We are aware of the environment.' We wanted todo something that was unique. We thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to dosomething that will continue on into the future?' "
The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will include speeches from County Executive Robert R. Neall and Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association.
The 3,500-home planned unit development sits on 613 acres at the corner of Route 198 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. It is scheduled for completion in 1998.
Builders are just now finishing up model homes. Although no homes have been completed, Mostrom said, 75 people have taken advantage of preconstruction sales andpurchased houses.
"Before the models are complete, that's when the pricing is the best," he said. "Traditionally, builders in the project open up aggressively in pricing and hope to build momentum. And that's when you expect to start raising prices."
Mostrom said that it's "a safe bet that the first occupants will be in before the end of the year. But the bulk of the first occupancies will be in March orApril of next year."
Right now, builders are busy constructing models. Eight builders will have sales offices open this morning.
Mostrom said one builder, Miller and Smith, from Virginia, already has 200 people interested in buying single-family homes. He said a lottery will be held for the first 30 homes.
The two other West County developments under construction, Seven Oaks and Piney Orchard, have already officially opened.
Also today, the Oxbow Nature preserve, a 70-acre marshy lake that is a sanctuary to beaver, wood ducks, mallard, blue-winged teal and the great blue heron, will ceremonially be handed over to the county.
The lake and 150 surrounding acres is still being surveyed, so the actual title won't be given to the county until later.
Mostrom said the dedication of the preserve fits in with giving away memberships to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
"I hope that most of the people will continue to subscribe to the organization in the future," he said.
Rod Coggins, spokesman for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said he appreciates Russett's gesture.
"We have, among our membership, a broad spectrum of professional and business people," he said. "The fact that we have development support is certainly no surprise and is consistent with our goals and things we are doing to save the bay."
Coggins said a one-year subscription costs $20 per person. "It is terrific," he said. "We welcome them getting on the bandwagon. We need them."