Army, developer reach tentative deal on Fort Meade office park

June 26, 2008|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Sun reporter

The Army has reached a tentative deal with a Texas-based development firm to build a large office park at Fort Meade, with the firm pledging to work with local and state officials to ease expected traffic congestion around the post.

Trammell Crow Co. announced yesterday that it had reached agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Fort Meade to develop 1.7 million square feet of office space on the post along Reece Road. The $550 million project, to be called Fort Meade Technology Center, would include offices, park areas and shops.

A final 50-year lease for the 173-acre tract remains to be negotiated, but the company said in its statement that it hopes to break ground late this year and finish the first office building in 2010.

The site could handle as many as 10,000 defense contract workers, drawn by the military base realignment and closure process and by continuing expansion of the National Security Agency on the post.

"This is an important day in the history of Fort Meade," Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy, the post commander, said in a statement.

The lease deal would help the post replace its current golf courses, which help pay for youth sports, child development centers, after-school programs and other activities for military families, he said. The arrangement would aid the Army in maintaining and upgrading the aging buildings and infrastructure on the 5,400-acre post, the commander said.

Fort Meade's golf course is to be the site for a new headquarters for the Defense Information Systems Agency, the military's information-technology provider. Construction began recently on that complex, and about 4,300 civilian defense jobs in Northern Virginia are expected to relocate there when it is finished in 2011.

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold and state officials have been pressing for the developer to help pay for road improvements near the post to handle the expected increase in traffic. State officials maintain that although federal land is exempt from paying property taxes, private structures could be taxed.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a law enacted this year encouraging such private developments on military bases to work out payments for needed infrastructure in lieu of being taxed.

Leopold said negotiations involving the county, the Army and Trammell Crow have begun, and he hopes to reach an "equitable" arrangement to help finance needed traffic upgrades.

"We've agreed to work this out in a cooperative manner," said Mark Corneal, senior vice president for Trammell Crow's Washington office. "So we are working closely with the state and the county."

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