Lead­ers talk eco­nomic projects to move county for­ward

New FBI head­quar­ters project hot-but­ton topic

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

Pro­vid­ing com­mu­nity up­dates while dis­cussing im­por­tant projects and part­ner­ships tak­ing place in and around the county, the Greater Prince Ge­orge’s Busi­ness Round­table Inc. held a board of di­rec­tors meet­ing May 11 at the Toll Broth­ers Marl­boro Ridge Club­house in Up­per Marl­boro.

Guest speak­ers at the meet­ing in­cluded Mary­land Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince Ge­orge’s, Charles, Calvert), Prince Ge­orge’s County Coun­cil­man Todd M. Turner (D), Ven­ture Phi­lan­thropy Part­ners team mem­bers Eleanor Rut­land and Michelle Gil­liard, Joint Base An­drews 11th Wing Com­man­der Col. Bradley Hoagland, as well as Garth E. Beall of McNamee Hosea At­tor­neys and Ad­vi­sors, a de­vel­op­ment lawyer as­so­ci­ated with the Green­belt site for

the new FBI head­quar­ters project.

Turner spoke about the ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties hap­pen­ing in the county, start­ing with the FBI project.

“As you all are well aware, we have two of the three sites [Green­belt, Lan­dover and Spring­field, Va.] that are be­ing con­sid­ered by the Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion. I think the Green­belt site is the best site that hap­pens to be in my dis­trict,” Turner said. “But it’s also one of the sites where we can have ad­di­tional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as a re­sult of the FBI be­ing there be­cause of the com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment that can oc­cur near the metro it­self. … This is a part­ner­ship be­tween the state and the county to get the fed­eral govern­ment to come here. We’ve heard for years about how we feel ne­glected about the op­por­tu­nity to have those kind of sig­na­ture fed­eral fa­cil­i­ties, even though we have some of them. … When you talk about Green­belt and that be­ing the FBI [lo­ca­tion], that’s the kind of sig­na­ture place that you want to have here in Prince Ge­orge’s County. So we’re go­ing to con­tinue to work to­ward that.”

Turner said the county is fi­nally see­ing the fruits of its la­bor thanks to more re­sources and other key projects, like MGM Na­tional Har- bor casino slated to open later this year, in the eco­nomic pipe­line.

“We’re right in the mid­dle of our fis­cal year 2017 bud­get,” he said. “Com­ing out of last year’s dis­cus­sion with the county ex­ec­u­tive and our pub­lic, the coun­cil un­der­took what I would call ‘get­ting our fis­cal house in or­der’ as a county. We have a struc­tural deficit that’s part of our bud­get every year and we’re work­ing to do that. We es­tab­lished a Blue Rib­bon Com­mis­sion that has been meet­ing over the last seven or eight months, talk­ing about what we need to do as a county. ... It talks about get­ting our house in or­der and get­ting our fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity in or­der.”

For the first time in 18 years, Turner said the county is also con­duct­ing a per­for­mance au­dit of the school sys­tem to make sure that the bil­lions of dol­lars re­ceived from the state is prop­erly al­lo­cated and used for the right rea­sons.

“We’re all sup­port­ive of [Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell], mem­bers of the board [of ed­u­ca­tion], our teach­ers and our ad­min­is­tra­tors. But at the same time, we’ve got to prove to the peo­ple that we have to go to and say, ‘This is why we’re do­ing cer­tain things,’” Turner said. “We took a tough vote last year [that] wasn’t pop­u­lar about fund­ing our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and wasn’t ev­ery­thing that ev­ery­body wanted. But we un­der­stood that we had to meet our obli­ga­tions and we have to meet our obli­ga­tions un­der state law. … We’ll be com­ing back to our busi­ness com­mu­nity and to our res­i­dents to talk about those kind of things that we need to do.”

In terms of mov­ing the county for­ward with hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, Turner men­tioned the coun­cil’s Com­pre­hen­sive Hous­ing Strat­egy, an ini­tia­tive pro­posed ear­lier this year by Coun­cil Chair­man Der­rick Davis (D). Meet­ings will be­gin some­time in June due to on­go­ing bud­get res­o­lu­tions and dis­cus­sions. The coun­cil’s goal is to pro­duce a pre­lim­i­nary re­port at the end of the year and then a fi­nal re­port next year, Turner said.

“It’s about where we want to go with re­spect to our hous­ing in the fu­ture,” Turner said. “We just kicked that off with a res­o­lu­tion es­tab­lish­ing a work­group … fo­cus­ing where we want that de­vel­op­ment to be. Ob­vi­ously, tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment is an im­por­tant part and we’ve tar­geted five metro sta­tions in the en­tire county with where we want to fo­cus our de­vel­op­ment. … That of­fers a full range of hous­ing whether it’s for our se­niors … whether it’s work­force hous­ing or af­ford­able hous­ing, that is a fac­tor as well. Those are the kind of con­ver­sa­tions that we need to have a plan to be able to move for­ward in that di­rec­tion. The mar­ket will de­ter­mine some of that as well but our in­vest­ment has to be part of that process.”

As far as the prospects for bring- ing the FBI to the county, Beall said $46 bil­lion is the to­tal eco­nomic out­put for the Green­belt sta­tion project over 20 years, which in­cludes the new head­quar­ters plus the mixed-use de­vel­op­ment. If Green­belt is cho­sen as the fi­nal site, the FBI com­plex will be 2.4 mil­lion square feet in to­tal size with 800 res­i­dences, 70,000 square feet of re­tail space, 350,000 square feet of com­mer­cial of­fice space, 300 ho­tel rooms and 20,000 square feet of con­fer­ence room spa­ces.

“The Green­belt sta­tion project is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than the other two sites that are short­listed for the FBI,” said Beall. “Each of the sites is fairly well lo­cated geo­graph­i­cally. Green­belt has an ad­van­tage in that it’s both on the green and yel­low metro lines as well as on the MARC train. … A por­tion of that site, 61-and-a-half acres, is re­served for the FBI. The re­main­der is go­ing to be oc­cu­pied by the metro tran­sit fa­cil­i­ties [and mixe­dused de­vel­op­ment].”

In terms of de­sign and plan­ning, Beall said one of the chal­lenges with Green­belt is the fact that it sits next to In­dian Creek head­wa­ters, a tribu­tary of the Ana­cos­tia River.

“The sta­tion con­tains a fairly mod­est stormwa­ter man­age­ment fa­cil­ity,” Beall said. “With 40 acres of im­per­vi­ous sur­face, what we wanted to do is ba­si­cally im­prove the con­di­tion of the project. We do that by ef­fec­tively re­duc­ing the im­per­vi­ous sur­face by about 50 per­cent. The FBI head­quar­ters has to meet fed­eral re­quire­ments un­der the En­ergy In­de­pen­dence and Se­cu­rity Act [of 2007]. So the FBI fa­cil­ity has to ef­fec­tively con­trol stormwa­ter as if there were no de­vel­op­ment on the site. With the rest of the project, we are go­ing to con­tinue to go through de­sign that will have a very cut­ting-edge stormwa­ter man­age­ment fa­cil­ity. We’re look­ing at en­ergy con­ser­va­tion and in­no­va­tive ways to bring tech­nol­ogy into the project.”

When con­structed, the FBI head­quar­ters will gen­er­ate nearly 21,000 jobs, $3.4 bil­lion in an­nual eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and $1.3 bil­lion in an­nual wages. An is­sue record of de­ci­sion along with a de­sign/ con­struc­tion con­tract is ex­pected to be awarded at the end of this year in De­cem­ber, ac­cord­ing to Beall.

Greater Prince Ge­orge’s Busi­ness Round­table Pres­i­dent and CEO Jim Estepp said if the FBI head­quar­ters does come to the county, that will be the crow­ing touch in terms of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“The fact that Prince Ge­orge’s County has two of the three sites, and the other isn’t very con­ducive to the FBI lo­ca­tion, makes us feel very good and cer­tainly makes us feel that we have a bet­ter than 50 per­cent chance of nail­ing this project,” Estepp said. “This project will be in Prince Ge­orge’s County.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Mary­land Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. ad­dresses Prince Ge­orge’s County lead­ers, busi­ness part­ners and con­stituents dur­ing a board of di­rec­tors meet­ing hosted by the Greater Prince Ge­orge’s Busi­ness Round­table Inc. on May 11 at the Toll Broth­ers Marl­boro Ridge Club­house in Up­per Marl­boro. Miller, who has been a mem­ber of the Se­nate since Jan­uary 1975, rep­re­sents Dis­trict 27 which in­cludes Calvert, Charles and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties.

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