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50-year-old Md. House gets makeover

Nearly five decades old, the Maryland House is set to reopen on the state’s main superhighway next month as a new, ultra-modern rest stop.

The Maryland House (above) and its sister stop, the Chesapeake House, are being redeveloped under a public-private partnership similar to the Maryland Port Administration’s 2009 contract with Ports America. Areas USA will operate and maintain the plazas through 2047; the state retains ownership and expects more than $400 million in revenue by then. (The Daily Record / Melody Simmons)

The pit stop, gas station and eatery on Interstate 95 in Aberdeen that has greeted weary travelers since Lyndon B. Johnson occupied the White House was closed in September 2012 and razed. It has been rebuilt over the past 18 months in a $30 million redevelopment.

In its new incarnation, a pair of skylight-laden, glass-and-red-brick, pitched-roof buildings designed by Baltimore architects Ayers Saint Gross have risen on the wide median separating the northbound and southbound lanes of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.

The Maryland Transportation Authority, which oversees the rest stop, signed a 35-year public-private concessionaire agreement in 2012 with Miami-based Areas USA Inc. for $56 million that also includes redevelopment of the Chesapeake House in Cecil County near the Maryland-Delaware line.

Under the agreement, Areas USA funded the entire cost of the redevelopment and will operate and maintain the facility, which in the past has attracted about 2.8 million visitors annually. In return, the operator will receive leasing fees from vendors, plus other profits from the site.

The state will receive an anticipated $400 million in revenues as part of that agreement, said Rebecca L. Freeberger, a spokeswoman for MdTA.

“The state will retain ownership and oversight of the development,” Freeberger said.

The $26 million renovation and redevelopment at the Chesapeake House is expected to be completed in September 2014.

Freeberger said the new Maryland House is set to open by mid-January. It will present several new vendors: a Phillips Seafood Express, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Carvel Ice Cream. A new Sunoco gas station will also open there.

Clark Construction is the general contractor.

[An earlier version of this story misstated what will happen to the Chesapeake House rest stop when the Maryland House reopens in January. The Maryland Transportation Authority says it will close for renovations. The Daily Record regrets the error.]