Leaders talk economic projects to move county forward
New FBI headquarters project hot-button topic
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.”
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.