UPPER MARLBORO – Despite slight concerns about traffic and transportation, the Prince George’s County District Council approved a conceptual site plan to add residential development at the Melford Business Park in Bowie. The proposed plan submitted developer St. John Properties, Inc. calls for an additional 2,500 residential units, 268,500 square feet of retail space and […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Despite slight concerns about traffic and transportation, the Prince George’s County District Council approved a conceptual site plan to add residential development at the Melford Business Park in Bowie.
The proposed plan submitted developer St. John Properties, Inc. calls for an additional 2,500 residential units, 268,500 square feet of retail space and 260,000 square feet of office space to a conceptual site plan with 1,294,585 square feet of approved office and development uses.
The Prince George’s County Planning Board approved the project with conditions in November of 2014 and the District Council had until April of 2015 to make a decision on the property. This addition will be a welcome one to District 4 and Prince George’s County, according to County Councilman Todd Turner.
“The justification is that after 30 years of trying to make that an employment only center, it hasn’t happened. I wasn’t around 30 years ago when it was first established, but there really was a lot of people thinking it was going to be successful,” Turner said. “And here we are 30 years later. It isn’t what we thought it was going to be.”
The employment park did not perform up to standards, Turner said, even with different uses being proposed for it over time. The issue became whether the county should reconsider what the property would be used for going forward after retail and hotel strategies implemented on the property failed.
The council would like for the 2,500 residential units to be phased in over time, Turner said, and the process could take up to 10 to 15 years to be fully completed and filled. There will also be more senior living opportunities on the property, he said.
“Our seniors, who built Bowie, were moving away because they wanted to get rid of their single family homes but did not have any alternatives that they would use,” Turner said. “That’s why 1,000 out of the 2,500 would be for seniors.”
Turner said the council would like to keep the income of senior residents in the city of Bowie while also giving them affordable living opportunities. They will also make sure workforce housing is provided within the development.
A big issue, Turner said, is getting more transit around Route 50. The community will be walkable within itself, he said, but to get out of the community residents will need to drive.
“We’ve had discussions with WMATA about extending service once this gets built, but it’s hard to do that because there aren’t enough people there now to extend a service,” Turner said.
Bowie Councilman Dennis Brady, who was the only one to vote against the plan when it came before the city, said he does not see the Melford development being a successful one at all with the additional residential units coming to the property. Where the property is located makes success difficult, he said.
“I don’t see Melford being successful, period, because of its location and the restriction in the entrance point,” Brady said. “The way the property is constrained prevents them from doing anything over there and being successful.”
The citizens’ thoughts were not heard enough when considering the changes at Melford, Brady said, and there should have been a more thorough public discussion about what to do with the property.
Even though mixed use properties in other areas have been successful, Brady said, there are some differences between those properties and what Melford would be because of positioning.