Office-retail complex planned at Fort Meade

Developer Trammell Crow to build two golf courses in exchange for prime site

November 03, 2006|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun reporter

The developer tapped by the Army to redevelop 540 acres of Fort Meade is proposing a $700 million office and retail project at the prime location just outside the main gate.

The area around the fort is rapidly expanding as thousands of new workers start to flock to Fort Meade as part of a reorganization of the nation's military bases.

Trammell Crow Co., of Dallas, has proposed building more than 2 million square feet of offices in about 15 buildings spanning three, park-like office campuses on 173 vacant acres north of Route 175, a vice president of the company said yesterday.

The developer, which was notified Monday of its selection, also plans an undetermined amount of retail space, including a health club and day care center, said Mark S. Corneal, a senior vice president at Trammell Crow.

"It's an incredible opportunity to build a Class A office park in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, outside the gates of Fort Meade, that will serve both the Army's requirements and the contracting community that serves the Army," Corneal said.

"There aren't very many large chunks of land in the Baltimore-Washington corridor available for this type of development. And the BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] program is an exciting time for Anne Arundel County and this area of Maryland because of the win by Fort Meade of the influx of jobs."

The restructuring is expected to draw 5,400 new civilian, military and contract employees to Fort Meade, along with 4,900 family members, a base spokeswoman said yesterday.

20,000 more

That doesn't include defense-related jobs that are projected to be drawn to the area. As many as 20,000 are expected over the next five to 10 years, according to some estimates.

Under the agreement the Army is to sign with Trammell Crow next Friday, the Texas company will develop, own and manage the commercial project. In lieu of rent for the federally owned land, Trammell Crow will build two 18-hole golf courses on 360 acres south of Route 32.

"We're giving them the space and the land, and they're going to build a facility of benefit to Fort Meade and to them as well, and will pay us back in in-kind services," said Christopher Augsburger, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which selected the developer along with officials of Fort Meade.

Course to close

A golf course at Fort Meade, along Mapes Road and Cooper Avenue, will be closed and used by the Army to build facilities for the government agencies expected to relocate there as part of BRAC, said Jennifer Downing, the Fort Meade spokeswoman.

Those agencies include the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Defense Military Department Adjudication Activities, and Defense Media and Publication Activities, she said.

The influx of highly sophisticated jobs from those agencies will help drive demand for commercial and residential growth that is beginning to transform the larger Odenton area, said Aaron J. Greenfield, president and chief executive of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.

Last month, state leaders announced a $150 million residential-retail-office development next to the Odenton MARC train station.

The proposed office park at Fort Meade, which Trammell Crow hopes to call the Fort Meade Technology Center, would give that stretch of Route 175 a boost, Greenfield said.

"I think it's terrific, and I think it is needed," Greenfield said. "If you look at that area around Fort Meade, particularly the 175 area, I am of the belief it needs a nice tuneup and needs some work, so we're excited about this project. It offers significant redevelopment opportunities."

Gregory E. Masi, a vice president of Manekin LLC, the Columbia real estate company, estimated that up to 15 million square feet of office space is being planned or proposed within a 5-mile radius of the fort over the next decade.

Not overwhelming

"It won't overwhelm anybody in the market, because developers in the corridor have been smart in the way they build," Masi said. "Nobody wants to go out and build and sit and wait" for tenants.

Tenants likely will see the proposed development at Fort Meade as a prime address, he said.

"It's a good location," he said. "It has not been in the past the best location, but because of the new activity occurring in the next six to seven years at Fort Meade, it is turning into an excellent location."

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