For some, all roads lead to Odenton

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE : ODENTON

Centralized location, housing options cause rapid growth

October 07, 2001|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Military life many times can mean one move after another.

So when Bert Rice was assigned to Fort Meade in 1976, he figured Odenton, in western Anne Arundel County, would be only one of many areas where he and his family would live.

Now, 25 years later, they still call Odenton their home.

"Like any real estate deal, it's location, location, location," said Rice, a retired Army colonel. "We recognized when we first moved here that Odenton was sort of in the center of things. There's not a whole lot in Odenton, but it's close to just about everything."

Although his job in the Army has taken him and his family to many places, they have always kept their Odenton house. And when his wife, Deanna, became ill, there was no question in their minds that this was home.

"We are in a good medical system here through Johns Hopkins Hospital, and my wife is doing well. Over the years, I got very involved in a lot of community activities," said Rice, who is president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association and a former county councilman.

"Our largest circle of friends are here. It wasn't a difficult choice to stay in Odenton. This is an exciting and interesting place to live."

Odenton is between Fort Meade and Gambrills, just south of Route 32 - making it one of the most accessible locations in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. This centralized location has brought rapid growth to the area during the past 10 years.

Odenton, as defined by its ZIP code, stretches north to Route 32, east to Gambrills, west to Fort Meade and the Patuxent Research Refuge and south to the Patuxent River. The Greater Odenton Improvement Association's boundaries are even larger, encompassing Fort Meade and extending north to Dorsey Road.

But what is typically thought of as Odenton goes back to when the area served as a strategic transportation corridor. The original small town was formed around the creation of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad in 1868. The line connected Baltimore and Washington and crossed the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad at present-day Odenton.

A post office and station were designated and named for Oden Bowie, a former Maryland governor and president of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad.

The greatest impact on Odenton was the arrival of Fort Meade in 1917. The U.S. War Department acquired 19,000 acres to build the Army fort. In the 1950s, the National Security Agency took over a portion of the fort property.

These two developments, along with the creation of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, transformed Odenton from a rural railroad town into a residential and industrial center for Anne Arundel County.

"Odenton has always been here. The problem was you couldn't get to it. With the opening of Route 32 and the expansion of routes 175 and 97, all of a sudden Odenton is the hottest place in Maryland," said Ed Griemsmann, manager of the Odenton office of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA.

"It was always just a small military town because of its proximity to Fort Meade. With the recent additions of three large planned developments, the population of Odenton has tripled over the last 10 years," he added.

Odenton also has its own MARC train station and airport - Tipton Airport - to make commuting even easier.

The housing choices are just as ample as the choices to get to them.

Many homes in Odenton were built during the 1960s and 1970s. They are found on large lots with mature landscaping on winding streets and cul-de-sacs. These homes, which sell in the mid-$100,000 to mid-$200,000 range, include ranchers, Colonials, split-levels and bungalows.

The two newer communities of Seven Oaks and Piney Orchard are planned unit developments. When completed, the developments together will have more than 8,000 new homes. Already, condominiums, townhouses, apartments and single-family homes are available. Each development has a community center, community swimming pool and shopping center anchored by a grocery store.

The price range in the new communities ranges from about $115,000 for a condominium to more than $350,000 for a single-family home.

The Villages at Waugh Chapel is another mixed-use development on the outskirts of Odenton near Gambrills.

With all of this new development - both residential and commercial - the county is putting together an Odenton Small Area Plan that will help organize the area's growth.

The large amount of housing stock attracts a wide variety of people, although the location is usually the biggest draw, said Griemsmann.

"There is definitely an old core of retired military types from Fort Meade that live in Odenton," he said.

"But with the advent of the new planned developments, there's been a tremendous influx of young professionals. The location is the biggest attraction. You can get anywhere in 30 minutes."

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