The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to approve soon one of the biggest real estate development projects in Maryland -- a $115 million expansion of the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi.
The expansion in Adelphi, which straddles the border of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, is aimed at consolidating part, if not all, of at least four Army research laboratories in other parts of the country.
Dennis Murphy, president of the Economic Development Corp. for Prince George's County, said the consolidation is expected to bring 500 "high-level research laboratory people to the area."
Mr. Murphy said it was still too early to determine how many new jobs might be generated.
"We will have to wait and see how many people don't make the move," he said. "Some people will just not want to move for various reasons."
Marsha Schachtel, executive assistant to the secretary of the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development, pointed out that defense contractors in the state have been hurt in recent years by a continuing reduction in military spending.
She welcomed the planned development of the Army's consolidated research centers, saying the project would add to the state's already strong military research and development base.
"It's a very large project," said Stewart Startt, marketing director with Anderson DeBartolo Pan, a Tucson, Ariz.-based architectural firm that is working on the plans.
Mr. Startt compared it to the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yard, which cost about $106 million to build. Anderson DeBartolo Pan is teamed with RTKL Associates Inc.,in Baltimore, on a $1 million contract for architecture/engineering and design work.
Leslie Hill, an official at the Army Corps of Engineering office in Baltimore, said yesterday that the Army was in the final phase of an environmental assessment study. She said the public comment period expires Nov. 6, and the Army could move forward on the project after that.
She said there has been no opposition to the program so far and she did not expect any interruption in the scheduled work.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 1993 and the facility is expected to be ready by the summer of 1997.
According to information released by the Pentagon, the Army research laboratories scheduled to be moved to Adelphi include:
* Electronic Technology and Devices Laboratory, Fort Monmouth, N.J.
* A portion of the Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
* Portions of the Harry Diamond Laboratories in Woodbridge, Va.
* The Directed Energy and Sensors Basic and Applied Research element of the Night Vision and Electro-Optics Directorate, Fort Belvoir, Va.
The moves come primarily because of legislation passed by Congress in 1991 that calls for widespread defense consolidation and base closures.