Billion-dollar project set for Greenbelt Metro station complex to have upscale shops, offices, apartments

Environmentalists uneasy

Council's OK hinges on mall attracting Saks-type store

Development

October 16, 1998|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

GREENBELT -- Plans were unveiled yesterday for a $1 billion, 240-acre development in Prince George's County that would mix upscale stores, office buildings and luxury apartments and condominiums.

The proposed site is adjacent to the Greenbelt Metro Station and is intended in part to increase ridership.

If approved by the County Council, Greenbelt Station, as it would be known, would include a four-department-store mall, a conference center, a man-made lake with paths for pedestrians and bicycles, and possibly an assisted-living residence for the elderly. No prospective retail or office tenants have committed to the project.

Residents have complained of a lack of high-end department stores, and the county stipulated that it will support the development only if at least one upscale store, such as Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman-Marcus, signs a letter agreeing to locate the mall.

Several firms have come together to form joint-venture group Metroland Developers LLC, which was chosen late last month by the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority to develop its 90 acres. An additional 150 adjacent acres owned by joint-venture partner A. H. Smith & Associates will also be folded into the

project.

Metroland also includes Clark Realty Capital LLC of Bethesda; Petrie Dierman Kughn Inc. of Alexandria, Va., and Beltway Indian Creek LLC of Lanham.

Former state Del. Michael Arrington is managing partner of Beltway Indian Creek.

Arrington was named this year in a report criticizing the Bowie State University Foundation. In the report, university officials say Arrington never fulfilled a foundation contract to lobby for the university in the state legislature, though he was paid by checks signed by his father who was the foundation's treasurer.

After the report was released, Arrington said he had tried to arrange meetings between legislators. "There is no impropriety on my part, nor was there any scheme for me to try to get any money from Bowie illegally," said Arrington in August. Arrington was a Prince George's County delegate from 1991 to 1995.

The proposed project includes:

A multiplex theater.

Two hotels with 200 rooms each.

About 1.5 million square feet of office space.

Nearly 2,000 apartments and condominiums and 520 units for seniors.

Developers estimated that the project would bring 3,700 construction jobs and more than 7,000 permanent jobs, generating annual tax revenues of more than $22 million.

Landscape architect Dennis Carmichael of EDAW Inc., speaking under a tent set up in the Metro station parking lot, said the development would have an urban feel, with both street and ramp parking, outdoor cafes and wide sidewalks.

"It will be the best of all worlds," said the architect who is working on the project. "A beautiful urban environment set in a beautiful natural environment."

But the environment won't be natural enough, some groups say.

Robert E. Boone, president of the Anacostia Watershed Society, said the plan doesn't have enough natural space, and he's worried about the wetlands that will be covered with concrete.

"They've designed it to put everything they could in this space," he said. "We'd like to see taller buildings with more stories and preserve more green space. Green space in urban areas is the most valuable of all."

Janet Pelley of the Prince George's Sierra Club said she's disturbed by the fact that the developers plan to reroute the stream that flows through the site.

"It's not a natural flow, and there's a lot of wildlife here -- deer, beavers, frogs."

Carmichael said there will be at least a year of negotiations and community input before the council approves a final plan.

State Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead represented Gov. Parris N. Glendening at the unveiling and to offer the administration's support for the project. He said his office is conducting a $60,000 to $70,000 study to look at the feasibility of reconfiguring freeway access to the site.

"Developments like Greenbelt are a win-win situation," he said. "In addition to providing more livable communities, transit developments encourage new business to locate in the area, bringing jobs to the community and attracting more people to the transit system."

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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