Considered the gateway from Washington to south Anne Arundel County by many, Waysons Corner has the potential to become a collection of tradesmen and small retailers, a marketplace of unique shops, or a shopping center with a large-scale grocery store.
Or, maybe, a combination of all.
People seem to have different visions for the intersection of Routes 408 and 4, a mixed commercial and residential area near the Prince George's County line.
Plans have been presented, suggestions have been made and rumors are floating, but one thing is certain: More commercial development is coming to Waysons Corner.
"I do see the potential for what already exists in Waysons Corner to be developed more," said Carter C. Shepherd, who owns or represents about 45 acres bordered by Route 408, Route 4 and Sands Road. "But, I don't see massive growth. I see gradual development."
One of 16 groups in county
Shepherd, of Lothian, is a member of the South County Small Area Planning Committee, one of 16 groups created by County Executive Janet S. Owens to draw up a development blueprint to guide land-use and zoning policies in Anne Arundel County.
Committee members, who include developers, landowners, environmentalists and residents, have met with residents to discuss the future of the area, including Waysons Corner, and have sent a preliminary draft to the county for suggestions.
The group plans to meet Jan. 11 at South County High School and will continue to revamp its proposal.
Public forum in May
A public forum will be held in May, with the final version to be sent to Owens, the County Council and county planning and advisory board in the summer.
Talk of Waysons Corner development has surfaced at committee meetings and throughout the community and will continue to be an issue at sessions.
"Waysons Corner is the only place in South County we'd want commercial development," said one committee member at the last gathering, on Nov. 11.
Methuselah Pumphrey, who lives in nearby Lothian, said residents in communities near Waysons Corner, such as the trailer park just north of Route 408, have been talking about development for a while. As more and more businesses open, he said, speculation increases.
But answers from the developers seem hard to find.
"No one is saying anything," Pumphrey said. "It's just hearsay."
Shepherd said he has applied to the county to subdivide 32 commercially zoned acres east of the post office and west of Sands Road to create a small business park, similar to one nearby. He expects 12 to 14 tenants, which would range from heat and air-conditioner contractors to small retail stores.
"We don't have any concrete plans," Shepherd said.
No plans for warehouse
As for a tobacco storage building that sits in the middle of Waysons Corner and served as an auction warehouse from 1949 until last year, Shepherd said no definite plans exist.
The wooden warehouse sits on about 4.3 acres of commercial land owned by Shepherd's sister.
"I'm not sure what the future of that building is," Shepherd said, adding that it might be too costly to bring the warehouse up to code.
County planners see Waysons Corner as a commercial area in need of a makeover.
The county hired planners from Rhodeside and Harwell of Alexandria, Va., to work with the small-area planning committee and property owners to come up with street improvements and building suggestions. The existing businesses include a bingo hall, gas station, bar and commercial park.
To create a more attractive entrance into South County, the design company suggested tree plantings along the roads, improved entrances into several parking lots off the main roads and converting the tobacco warehouse into a market place of specialty stores, such as antique shops.
The presenters also suggested building a community center near Sands Road.
Edward O. Wayson Jr. has bigger plans for Waysons Corner, which was named for his family.
The Annapolis attorney said there are plans to replace Waysons Bingo with a 40,000-square-foot entertainment center, which would include a bingo hall, restaurant and other entertainment next to the current facility. The current bingo hall would be razed.
"We don't know what kind of other entertainment will go in there," Wayson said. "We see a lot of demand for a lot of different entertainment."
Wayson said construction could take several months, and the center could be complete within the next two years.
"We're trying to get site plans approved by the county," he said.
Wayson is also planning to ask the county to rezone 50 acres off Route 4 near Plummer Lane for a grocery store and shopping center.
The land, part of a 660-acre parcel owned by Jim Jacoby of Atlanta, is zoned residential-agricultural.
Wayson is representing Jacoby with the county.
The county will be going through a comprehensive zoning period next year during which property owners can apply to have their land rezoned.