Sunday, June 01, 2008

Andrews Air Force Base BRACing for Growth

As DCMud reported last year, the Andrews Business & Community Alliance (ABCA), has been incubating plans for 7 million s.f. of new development around Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, in an attempt to expand the $1.2 billion in annual economic benefit the base brings to the county.

Andrews Air Force Base is part of the 2005 national BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) process that was used by the Department of Defense to streamline operations and reorganize bases to increase operational readiness, taking the strategic decisions out of the hands of provincial legislators. The BRAC program handed a net increase of personnel to Andrews, and the county is making plans to benefit from that increase.

At Andrews, BRAC will create 800 new military positions that will be in place by January of 2011. According to James Estepp, Director of Operations, Greater Prince George's Business Roundtable and the Andrews Business & Community Alliance, the realignment will lead to a net increase of 3,000 military and civilian assigned jobs. ABCA is a group of members of the surrounding business, community-service, and faith-based organizations who work to support "the mission at Andrews Air Force Base while fostering successful economic and community relations."

ABCA plans for a development to surround the base as the increase in personnel begins, including over 5 million s.f. of office space, 2 million s.f. of retail, and over 15,000 residential units to accommodate the population increase caused by the new employees, their families, and the additional businesses drawn to the area. The base proper is 5,000 acres, the land around it is owned by multiple individuals and corporations, a coordinated development effort of all the land is not yet assured.

“Our original idea was a vision and we are working on increasing our membership (in the alliance) to make that vision happen. There will be multiple developers in play because of the land, where it is, and how it is owned. We are talking about 5,000 acres. We are certainly drumming up support,” Estepp said.

He added that there would not be any major steps forward within the year because of the BRAC time frame. “BRAC isn’t law until 2011, so federal, state and local politicians will not be under pressure to move until closer to the deadline.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has authorized the creation of state “BRAC zones” for which areas in Maryland can apply to get matching state funds for infrastructure work around military bases. According to Estepp, this benefits the Alliance's plans as it provides incentives to the county for infrastructure for businesses moving near the base. The municipality would apply for such a zone.

Andrews is bound by Route 4, Branch Avenue, Old Alexandria Ferry Road and Allentown Road. Part of the Alliance’s plan involves extending Metro’s Green Line to the base.

Both Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties are involved in the BRAC processes, moving jobs to Fort Meade and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.


Anonymous said...

It's nice to see these "old" high visioned proposals on your website as "what might have been" if hope were ever to come to reality. Now, only two years later, P G County is flush with a glut of hundreds of newly "affordable homes", recently flushed out by foreclosure from the holdings of national predatory lenders.
There may have been a few new positions at AAFB, but probably nowhere near 400, much less 800. There is less retail, not more, as outlets continue to shut down across the County. Branch Avenue station continues to offer easy access to one of the largest mostly vacant condo/apartment clusters that has not yet caught fire or been demolished as a drug haven, but its newness and physical attractiveness hasn't yet made it a haven for local yuppies.
Is it all due to the national, regional, local economy? Or is it mostly due to the local politics of spending the taxpayers funds mostly on the politicians' cronies and seldom on community enhancements?

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