Work begins on Upper Marlboro’s $2 billion Westphalia Town Center -- Gazette.Net


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After years of delay, thousands of new homes are set to come to Prince George’s County as ground was scheduled to be broken Thursday on a $2 billion project in Upper Marlboro.

The Walton Group of Companies, which is based in Alberta, Canada, was scheduled to have a groundbreaking ceremony on June 13 for the 479-acre Westphalia Town Center in Upper Marlboro.

Estimated completion costs were not available as of Tuesday, but development is expected to be a multi-year effort, said Craig Brownstein, a Walton spokesman.

The project, which is located near the intersection of Md. 223 and Pennsylvania Avenue near Joint Base Andrews, is expected to be a mixed-use community that will create about 15,000 permanent office and retail jobs, according to an analysis by the Walton Group.

Thomas Himler, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for budget finance and administration, said the project’s anticipated $21 million in new tax revenue could pay for hiring additional police officers or firefighters.

“That’s a lot of money,” Himler said. “That’s a lot of investment we could do.”

When finished, the town center will include 1,287 townhomes, more than 1,200 apartments housing and 172 single family homes.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said he was looking forward to the development and its potential to benefit the county as a whole.

“I’m exceptionally happy that it’s coming to fruition,” Baker said. “I think it anchors a big part of where we’re focusing on in the county.”

With Westphalia potentially becoming a home for between 40,000 to 50,000 people, the development could become a new community and financial hub, said County Councilman Derrick L. Davis (D-Dist. 6).

“I’m not going to make the assumption that we’re going to be bigger than Bowie but we’re going to give them a run for their money,” said Davis, referring to the largest city in the county.

The first phase of the project, which will cover 110 acres and include 347 townhomes, more than 400 apartments and about 500,000 square feet of retail space, is expected to open around March 2014, said Rob Leinbach, president of Walton International (USA) Inc.

“It’s been a long time coming and we’re glad and grateful that we’re the ones to get this opportunity,” Leinbach said.

The project had been stalled since it was approved by the county government in 2009 after Daniel Colton, the original lead developer of the site, defaulted on a loan.

The Walton Group acquired the bulk of the property for $29.5 million from Wells Fargo in 2012.

“There were a lot of us who were concerned that it wouldn’t happen,” said David Harrington, president of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s too good of a site and the time is right where people are ready to move on.”

amccombs@gazette.net