Stimulus Projects Get Ok In Arundel

County Approves Use Of Bonds For 4 Developments

December 10, 2009|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella , lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

Several new developments in Anne Arundel County will move forward thanks to federal stimulus financing, including a $68 million office, retail and housing project in Hanover and a $25 million headquarters for a splinting company in Pasadena that could bring in 600 jobs.

County officials said they have approved four projects to use the county's more than $32 million worth of recovery zone facility bonds. The new development is expected to generate more than 1,700 permanent and construction jobs.

"These four projects will generate economic activity around them because of their diverse offerings of jobs in construction, retail, technology and health care," County Executive John R. Leopold said in a statement.

The financing, designed to jump-start construction nationwide and create jobs, comes from a $15 billion pool of tax-exempt bonds made available nationally for private-sector projects through federal stimulus legislation.

Government officials issue bonds that can be sold with tax-exempt interest, making them more attractive to investors at a time when financing is scarce for commercial projects. Baltimore city also has approved projects for its facility bond allocation of $30.8 million, including housing and shops around Broadway Market in Fells Point, a boutique hotel in the upper levels of Penn Station and a huge commercial laundry in Curtis Bay to serve the Mid-Atlantic region's hospitals.

Anne Arundel County officials received a dozen applications from developers requesting a total of $153 million in financial assistance.

The selected projects include:

* Buckingham, by developer Merritt Properties, a $68 million mixed-use project in Hanover that will include two four-story office buildings, four retail/restaurant buildings, an athletic club and 106 townhouses. The project was awarded a $5 million allocation of bonds and is expected to generate 270 permanent jobs and 55 construction jobs.

* A $25 million headquarters for Dynasplint, a fast growing Severna Park maker of "dynamic splints" for patients with range of motion problems caused by injury, surgery or disease. The project will include a 70,000-square-foot headquarters building and a 20,000-square foot refurbishing center on 11 acres at Route 10 and Ritchie Highway in Pasadena. The company, which now employs 251 at its headquarters, expects to have as many as 600 there in five to 10 years with another 200 jobs coming from construction. The county approved a bond allocation of $11 million. The company hopes to break ground by the end of next year.

* Meade Center, by developer Fortis Odenton LLC, a proposed $14 million, 65,000-square-foot project in Odenton outside Fort Meade that will include offices, shops and 15 furnished apartments for lease by the month or week. The project, awarded $7.4 million in tax exempt financing, is designed to appeal to defense contractor office tenants and contractors who need to rent short-term housing, said developer Brett Griffith, a partner in Fortis Odenton. The project is expected to create about 120 permanent jobs and 100 construction jobs.

* Odenton Health/Tech Campus, by A.J. Properties, a $12.7 project to build two proposed office buildings in Odenton, which is expected to generate 170 permanent jobs and 200 construction jobs. The project was awarded $8.8 million in financing.

The county evaluated proposals based on their ability to create jobs and stimulate additional capital investment, provide an economic benefit to the county and show a need for the bonds as part of the overall financing.

"Facing a restricted commercial credit market, these employment-generating projects could not have moved forward within the immediate time frame without the [recover zone facility bond] program," said Robert L. Hannon, president and chief executive of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation.

Griffith, the Meade Center developer, said the economy has forced delays in that project.

"But we're hopeful with the award of the bond money, we will be able to go out and start pushing for tenants," Griffith said. "Because it's tax exempt, that's going to appeal to potential bond purchasers. It will support the project and makes it more cost effective."

He said he hopes to start by the third quarter of next year and complete the project within a year.

George R. Hepburn, president of Dynasplint, said the awarding of bonds will "help achieve the total financing for the [headquarters] project. It will help me get it done. It will make it more attractive to lenders."

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