MIE plans Bowie outlay

Million square feet set for tech firms at troubled office park

`The perfect location'

$80 million project expected to result in 18 buildings

April 06, 2001|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

A mostly vacant business park in Bowie is about to get a boost from MIE Properties Inc., which said yesterday that it plans to build 1 million square feet of space for technology companies in 18 buildings.

The park, once known as the University of Maryland Science and Technology Center, has been in the works since the early 1980s. But various troubles - including the late 1980s real estate slump, developers' lack of cash and little infrastructure - stymied the project.

Catonsville-based MIE is partnering with Robert Depew, Dean Morehouse, Jeff Zell and Joseph Henderson, Baltimore- and Washington-area developers who own separate parcels within the business park.

The park is no longer affiliated with the university, which recently sold the last parcel it owned. The business park is in the northeast corner of U.S. 50 and Route 3 in Prince George's County and has been renamed the Maryland Science and Technology Center.

MIE invested $5 million to gain an ownership stake in about 100 acres of the 300-acre park. The company said it will turn to its regular institutional investors to finance the approximately $80 million in building construction costs.

"We know the market is there," said Edward A. St. John, MIE's president. "This is absolutely the perfect location between Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis."

St. John said that when the park was conceived there was plenty of land on which to build inside the Capital Beltway, around the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and in Annapolis. But that space is gone, making the Bowie property more appealing to developers and tenants.

The park property is still mostly farmland, used for little else for 20 years.

St. John said there are two tenants inside the park: a U.S. Census Bureau computer operation and the Institute for Defense Analysis.

It will take seven or eight years to build all of the buildings, he said. The first of the buildings will break ground in June and take about a year to construct.

Planned are a 30,000-square-foot office building and two 150,000- square-foot office buildings. Also planned are four "flex" buildings, which are suitable for uses such as storage, office and laboratory space. The buildings are likely to be built on a speculative basis, without signed tenants.

MIE has built about 8 million square feet of office, warehouse and retail space in the Baltimore area since 1971, and generally develops projects speculatively.

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