Long-awaited tech park to get a new hotel -- Gazette.Net


Plans for a new 250- to 300-room Hyatt hotel in Frederick County were announced Wednesday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony for Jefferson Technology Park.

Construction of a conference center, 50,000-square foot grocery store, apartments and homes were also announced.

The long-languishing technology park will bring 825 homes, 1.37 million square feet of office space and 125,000 square feet of retail space to the U.S. 340 and Md. 180 corridor.

The Frederick Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday night to approve a written agreement with the developers of the 173-acre tech park, just hours before an official groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site on Wednesday morning.

Although construction of the new technology park is already under way, the commissioners were required to hold a public hearing on the approval of the Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement, an 11-page document between the developer and the county spelling out how development would proceed.

The agreement will remain intact for 20 years, which prevents boards in the near future from overturning it.

“In today’s financial world, an agreement like this provides certainity,” said Krista McGowan, a Frederick attorney and representative on the project. “I believe [the agreement] is good for the developer, the county and the community.”

Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R), along with commissioners Kirby Delauter (R), Billy Shreve (R) and C. Paul Smith (R) voted to approve the agreement. Commissioner David P. Gray (R) was the lone vote against it.

“It’s been a long time,” said Brad Kline, who represented the developers on the project. “We’re excited and we’re moving forward. We are excited to be back.”

The construction of the technology park dates back to 2005. But progress on the project over the last seven years has been stalled because of a state requirement to construct a bridge over U.S. routes 340 and 15.

Representatives for the developers — JTPI Investments LLC and Jefferson Park Development LLC, both of Potomac — told commissioners that they will construct the $10 million interchange. Work on the interchange is slated to start in January.

The developers have also agreed to put up another $25 million toward other road improvements in the area surrounding the technology park.

“These improvements are dramatic,” said Mark Friis, president of Rodgers Consulting and a representative of the developers. “We want to get this project moving.”

Wes Guckert, a traffic engineer with the project, said the road improvement will diminish much of the traffic congestion already in the Ballenger Creek area, as well as future traffic problems created by the new development.

“We’re addressing traffic, making improvements, and reducing the traffic,” Guckert said. “... Traffic will increase, but it is being offset by the improvements. If we were not making the improvements, the average person would see a large amount of [traffic] delays. The average person will not see it because we’re making the improvements.”

The improvements include additional lanes along Md. 180 into the technology park and intersection work at Md. 351 and Md. 180.

The 173-acre technology park, which is expected to cost $135 million, will include homes, a 250-bed hotel and retail space. It will also included a 3-acre site for a fire and rescue station, a clubhouse, pool and walking trail. A grocery store is also proposed.

Commissioners touted the project as something that would bring more jobs to the county.

“It’s now in front of us,” Young said. “It’s a reality. With this economy a lot of people would kill for this.”

“I think it’s a great thing,” Delauter said. “It will keep jobs here.”