Tech park set for U.S. 1

Business center to be developed at Laurel Park

71-acre Jockey Club site

Howard sees project as revitalizing U.S. 1 corridor


June 16, 2000|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Bolstering Howard County's ambitions to revitalize U.S. 1, government and local business officials announced plans yesterday to develop a 71-acre, high-tech business park along the highway.

Dubbed the Baltimore Washington Technology Center, the site will accommodate 500,000 to 700,000 square feet of space, said Jim Lighthizer, first vice president of CB Richard Ellis, the real estate company handling marketing and leasing for the center.

Officials said they expect to break ground on the project in the fall, with the first buildings to be completed during the first quarter of 2001. The site, now a parking lot and fields, is adjacent to the Laurel Park racetrack. The project is expected to cost about $50 million, including land and development.

"We're primarily marketing the property to telecom companies, technology companies and other `flex' or office-warehouse users," Lighthizer said, adding that some telecommunication companies in the region have shown interest in the site.

The business park will be served by multiple fiber-optic carriers and a MARC train station.

The technology center could boost the image of U.S. 1 in Howard County. The project has the potential to attract some name employers to the corridor, said Joseph W. Rutter Jr., director of the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning. In turn, those companies would attract others, he said.

And the development could spur additional services, such as restaurants and dry cleaners, as opposed to the car repair and muffler shops that now dot the highway.

"My first reaction is `yay,'" said Howard County Executive James N. Robey.

Robey said the technology center will enhance the county's economic development and its effort to revitalize the U.S. 1 corridor. "I think it's a great use for a parking lot that's sitting there right now, not generating a lot of taxes." The Maryland Jockey Club owns the land to be developed, said Luis Medeiros, managing director of Leucadia International Corp., the largest shareholder in the Maryland Jockey Club.

Medeiros said the decision to develop the land came because "it's an excellent time to be developing real estate in the Baltimore-Washington corridor."

With Bell Atlantic, MCI WorldCom, Metromedia, e.spire Communications, Level 3 Communications and Qwest providing fiber optic service to the site, Medeiros said developers are hoping to draw large Internet and telecommunications companies.

"The majority of those tenants have decided to locate in Virginia," he said of telecom companies. "Technologically, we see no reason why they shouldn't be in Howard County, and the site is extremely well-suited for that purpose since we have a large amount of connectivity to multiple fiber-optic carriers."

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