Development along the Route 175 corridor continues to thrive and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon.
Mixed-use developments and demand for office space in the area are transforming the corridor in West Anne Arundel County into a major population center.
“A lot of people who work at [Fort Meade] want to live near it. So, there’s been a lot of apartment development, there’s been some other housing development, and a lot of the people that are moving into those units are working on the facility,” said Mary Burkholder, executive vice president of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.
The growth in the area can be traced back to 2005, when it was announced the Defense Information Systems Agency would relocate from Northern Virginia to Fort Meade. That announcement was followed by news that the U.S. Cyber Command was also relocating to the base.
Claire Louder, president and CEO of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said employment at the fort has increased from 34,000 people in 2007 to more than 56,000, and that’s not counting off-base contractors. She said job growth at the fort is anticipated to increase with an additional 1,000 jobs coming to U.S. Cyber Command.
“That growth is going to fuel growth in the private sector in support of those missions, but then there’s also service growth to support all the people who are coming into the area,” Louder said.
According to a list from the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., there are 10 major commercial projects that are being planned or built along the Route 175 corridor between Odenton and Jessup. That number excludes two projects in Gambrills and eight projects in various stages of development in nearby Hanover — including the massive Arundel Preserve development next to the Arundel Mills Mall. When the projects in those areas are counted together, they represent 71 percent of the major commercial projects that were proposed or under construction in 2013 and 2014 in Anne Arundel County.
The explosion in development in the corridor during the past several years has also resulted in a demand for more services to meet the needs of a population that has increased in the Odenton area by 28 percent since 2000. A retail-market study on the Odenton area released last fall revealed the biggest needs are supermarkets, restaurants and cafes.
“There’s almost no food service in the vicinity, a scattering of a few fast-food outlets.” Burkholder said. “If people who live in around the base, if they want to go out to eat they have to drive quite a bit.”
The new development has also changed much of the commercial uses in the Route 175 corridor.
Bill Martien, a commercial real estate broker with NAI KLNB, said his company closed on a deal with Gaithersburg-based Concrete General Inc. for an 8.5 acre lot off Route 175 in December. But he said spaces like that are becoming increasingly hard to find.
“Certainly some of the tracks that are close to [Route] 175 and [U.S.] Route 1 that I think a lot of the industrial guys would have presumed would be converted into some kind of newer industrial use, instead are going multi-family with a kind of retail component,” Martien said.
Louder said the area is also seeing an increased demand for office space from contractors, which influenced the Arundel Preserve development to recently add office space as part of its mixed-use plans. There is competition from nearby Columbia in Howard County, but Louder was confident the area would maintain interest from developers looking to create office space.
“There’s a lot of vacancy … continuing in Columbia, but Anne Arundel County is Fort Meade,” she said. “Though sometimes people forget that, Anne Arundel County is where Fort Meade is located and people want to be close by.”
Burkholder said she doesn’t believe the expansion has peaked and doesn’t think it will be slowing down anytime soon. She said it’s expected that 258 households every year will move into the Odenton area.
“The lease numbers and the market are very strong so we anticipate that will continue,” Burkholder said.