Developers to roll out plans for mega-project -- Gazette.Net


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After years of delays, developers say they’re ready to kick-start Prince George’s County’s biggest mixed-use project since National Harbor.

The 479-acre Westphalia Town Center project in Upper Marlboro is backed by three developers, with plans for 15,000 dwelling units, 1 million square feet of retail, 4 million square feet of office space and centralized recreation amenities. The main part of the project was stalled soon after its approval in 2009 when its original lead developer, Daniel Colton, defaulted on a loan. The site is northwest of the Capital Beltway.

A briefing set for Wednesday aims to introduce the business community to two of the project’s developers, the Walton Group of Calgary, Alberta, and Smith Home Farms of Upper Marlboro. Evangel Cathedral, also of Upper Marlboro, also owns 45 acres on the site. The meeting will take place 8:30 a.m. at Prince George’s Community College in Largo.

More than 50 people are expected to attend, said Mirinda Jackson, the county’s Minority Business Enterprise compliance manager.

“We like to get in front of a project,” Jackson said. “We want to start moving on business involvement 12 to 18 months in advance.”

Presenters will provide an update on the project’s progress and offer information on both early- and later-stage contracting opportunities, according to a county statement.

“What we hope to accomplish is to tell people about Walton and what we’re doing there,” said John Vick, regional vice president for Walton Development & Management, the Canadian company’s U.S. division.

He said Walton also will provide a loose timetable of when construction will begin.

Walton purchased 310 acres of the Westphalia project in March for $29.5 million.

“We think it’s a wonderful piece of property in a great location. It’s time to get it moving,” Vick said.

Business groups such as the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce are looking forward to the business growth the project could spark, said Jim Henderson, chairman of the chamber and owner of J.E. Henderson Financial in Seabrook.

“Anything that will jump-start the economy is a positive for the county,” Henderson said. “We want to make sure there’s a level playing field for both large and small businesses.”

Jackson said that although not everyone who attends the briefing or seeks a contract may receive one, “somebody will get something.”

“I think it would do the business community well to come out and learn about the project,” she said. “A lot of times with these things, people focus on the homeowners associations. This is for the businesses.”

Colton, Westphalia’s original lead developer, pleaded guilty last year to extortion and other charges related to the corruption investigation of then-County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D).

Walton has said it expects to complete the first phase of Westphalia by 2014.

For more information, call 301-952-4919.

lrobbins@gazette.net