Hot spot Route 100 area: Access makes Anne Arundel-Howard border alluring to mall, NASCAR.

December 22, 1997

WHETHER A $100 million speedway is built on a 400-acre site west of Fort Meade is immaterial. The mere possibility, coming on the heels of a proposal for a giant outlet mall nearby, underscores how hot the Anne Arundel-Howard border area has become. In one form or another, development is coming in a big way.

The two counties are increasingly wealthy, fed by jobs in Washington and Baltimore. With the extension of Route 100 nearing completion, vacant or underused land near that interconnector, Route 32 and Baltimore-Washington International Airport offers powerful development opportunities for regional retailers and entertainment impresarios.

If you want to cater to both halves of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan market, few locations are as attractive. It's why the Washington Redskins sought unsuccessfully to build their new stadium there. It's why Circuit City's CarMax used-car "superstore" entered Maryland there. And it's now why Mills Corp., an international operator of huge discount malls, and the Middle River Racing Association are eyeing the locale.

Republican Del. Michael W. Burns fears traffic from a 100,000-seat NASCAR track and entertainment complex: "Enough is enough. I'd like to see northern Anne Arundel start receiving schools and other amenities and not just be a dumping ground for industrial projects."

The Glen Burnie legislator misses the point. The allure of this area for economic development will help fund the schools and other amenities.

Anne Arundel County officials, for their part, are actively courting the Mills Corp., operator of the hugely successful Potomac Mills Mall in Virginia, and the speedway group.

The contrast is striking between Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary, who strongly supports the NASCAR idea, and C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Baltimore County executive whose ambivalence about putting the project in Middle River has the principals shopping elsewhere. One major difference is that the Baltimore County site is not accessible without major highway construction; the Anne Arundel site is better served by roads. In any event, more regional money magnets may be bound for this location.

Pub Date: 12/22/97

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