Plans to develop the area around the Bowie State University MARC train station are progressing as Prince George’s County officials have applied some pressure.

Earlier this month the County Council established the Bowie State MARC Station Development Board, which is charged with recommending companies for development, redevelopment and financing of the county-owned property in the area around the station.

“Now that we have completed the Bowie State MARC Station Sector Plan, I am excited to be able to move the implementation piece forward,” said Councilwoman Ingrid Turner, D-Dist. 4, in a statement. “This is a tremendous opportunity for more livable, sustainable communities around transit oriented development. I look forward to the reports of the Board and hearing their recommendations.”

The plan is a boost for perhaps the one place in Prince George’s that doesn’t need it. Bowie is one of the few areas in the county able to attract businesses. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker told the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce that the city’s been a leader in the county’s economic development. “This city has been a great ambassador for the county,” Baker said. “You’ve gone out and you’ve said with passion and conviction that businesses should come to Bowie and grow. You said it and you backed it up with action.”

The county has an ambitious vision for the development, which will include public streets with a “multi-modal transit system” linking Bowie State to Old Town Bowie and Bowie Town Center and streets that will be accessible to vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists while preserving open space.

The plan also calls for a community center preserving Bowie’s small “college town” atmosphere but also providing economic opportunities for businesses. “Within this vision, one could imagine university students walking from classes to the community center to sit down for a bite to eat with friends after dropping off a laptop for repairs at a local shop; or a commuter returning from Washington, D.C. on the MARC train …” the Prince George’s Planning Department said in its review. “The center becomes a focus of community life for the university and surrounding residential neighborhoods.”

This initiative comes on the heels of the announcement of the team – Forest City Enterprises and Urban Atlantic Development – that will develop the land around the New Carrollton Metro Station. The plan is in the conceptual stages as it is expected to be one of the largest development projects in Maryland.

This represents a change in the philosophy for Prince George’s officials who want to move for more transit-oriented development. Baker told the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Mid-Atlantic and Deal Making Conference that what’s happening now is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Not only will you grow here, we have underutilized hubs waiting to explode such as our 15 metro stations,” said Baker. “We are excited about some big changes that will be underway for our New Carrollton Metro Station and this is just the beginning of our mixed use development plans.” 

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO