The making of Piney Orchard Retail is finally taking shape in major subdivision between two cities.

September 12, 1997

PINEY ORCHARD, the mixed-use community near Odenton, has taken far longer to build than its developers envisioned. Begun in 1990 by Constellation Real Estate Inc., the planned community remains far short of its goal of 3,966 residences.

The slow pace of Piney Orchard sales has dragged down the earnings of Constellation's parent, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which took a $32 million write-down on the 2,500-acre project in July. Rather than giving up on the half-finished development, however, Constellation is taking steps to make sure the community is completed by 2006.

The company is aggressively seeking to have an elementary school built there as soon as possible and has donated land to make it a reality.

Constellation also is in the midst of planning a retail center in the heart of Piney Orchard. North Carolina-based Food Lion, which is intent on broadening its reach in the Baltimore-Washington market, will operate a supermarket as the anchor.

Scheduled to be ready in the spring, the center will also include a service station and a variety of smaller stores, including a dry cleaners, video rental store and two restaurants.

An estimated 3,200 people occupy Piney Orchard's 1,700 single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. Such a concentration of residents certainly warrants basic shopping facilities. Moreover, approximately 27,000 people live within three miles of the center and 82,000 people within five miles. Its location, midway between Baltimore and Washington, makes it attractive to households in which commuters travel to either city, or both.

A shopping component has always been part of the Piney Orchard blueprint. But as the project's progress slowed during Maryland's real estate recession in the early 1990s, getting anyone interested in shops became a chicken-and-egg dilemma. Or as a Constellation representative put it, "We couldn't convince a shopping center tenant to come in when there was nobody" in Piney Orchard.

The Odenton area's shopping situation is unusual because many families have PX privileges at Fort George G. Meade nearby. Nonetheless, the new Piney Orchard shopping center is a welcome development that will no doubt assist the completion of this new community.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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