Legoland theme park considered near BWI Toy manufacturer ponders 400-acre parcel off Ridge Road

July 09, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

The West County of the future might include a Legoland theme park.

Danish toy manufacturer Lego Group is considering part of a 400-acre parcel southeast of Baltimore-Washington International Airport as a location for a theme park, said a county development official and the owner of the property.

The company is in the "very preliminary" stage of looking at sites all around the country, including the property off Ridge Road, said Jay Winer, chairman of the board of directors of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.

A member of the limited partnership that owns the property said he spent about an hour in May looking at the site with Lego company officials. But the process is far from the negotiating stage, cautioned Michael Caruthers, an official with Dorchester Limited Partnership.

A Lego official yesterday confirmed the company's interest in Maryland, but would not say what specific sites the company is considering here.

The company, known for its colorful, miniature brick-like blocks, operates Legoland in Billund, Denmark, and opened its second theme park in Windsor, England, in March. The company plans to open a Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif., in 1999.

The search for a park site is focused in Asia, Europe and the East Coast of the United States, said John Jakobsen, project manager for Lego Park Planning Inc., which is in California

"Maryland is definitely one of the areas we are strongly considering," Jakobsen said in a telephone interview. "The intent of the company is that we would like to open a new Lego park every third year somewhere in the world."

Lego parks are aimed at children ages 2 to 13 and feature Lego products in educational exhibits, like the famous miniature recreations of historic sites, and also include classrooms and computer work areas, Jakobsen said. Park planners also will work with nearby school systems to incorporate elements of the curriculum into the park, he said.

Though much is unknown about the possibility of such a park coming to the county, the jobs and revenue it would bring would be welcome, Winer said.

"Anything that's a development like that, if it's properly done, could be a wonderful addition to the county," he said.

The Dorchester Limited Partnership also owns nearly 600 acres to the west of the commercial parcel that is slated for residential development. The county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement in January granted conditional approval to the Driggs Corp., a developer in Capitol Heights in Prince George's County, for a 796-home development on about 250 acres.

Charles E. Stuart, development manager at Driggs, said he is not worried about the possibility of a theme park in the neighborhood.

"There will be sufficient buffers between the two," Stuart said. "I don't think it would be detracting in any way."

The completion of Route 100 and a separate entrance from Ridge Road for the proposed theme park would prevent traffic congestion in the area, he said.

The community, known as Dorchester, would offer moderate- to middle-priced townhouses and single-family homes, Stuart said. The remaining acreage is zoned for rural development, but the developer hopes to have the zoning changed eventually to allow another 700 to 800 homes to be built, he said.

Pub Date: 7/09/96

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