Westphalia developer makes $600,000 gift to Prince George’s

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that County Council Chair Mel Franklin attended the announcement. He did not. This version has been corrected.

January 14

The developer of a major mixed-use development project in Prince George’s County is creating a $600,000 community fund to support local organizations that provide services to county residents.

The Walton Group of Companies said Tuesday that it is putting $200,000 for each of three years in the Walton Community Fund, which will be administered by the Community Foundation for Prince George’s County, and used “to strengthen essential services and advance education for Prince George’s County families and children.”

The Walton Group is the developer of the Westphalia Town Center, a large project of housing, office and retail spaces at a 479-acre site along Pennsylvania Avenue, just outside the Beltway. The project is expected to dramatically change the landscape of the Upper Marlboro area.

Walton chief executive officer Bill Doherty announced the fund Tuesday morning at an event in Upper Marlboro with County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

Doherty said in a statement that the goal of the fund is to strengthen the services offered to, and help meet the basic needs of, county residents.

“We also want to provide students with educational opportunities that will, in turn, help meet the growing needs of County employers,” Doherty said.

In a statement, Baker called the initiative a “significant private investment” and “meaningful partnership.” He said the fund will directly impact county residents and efforts to make gains in education.

The developer said grants will be awarded to service organizations that focus on education and community needs. The first grants will be awarded during the first quarter of this year, the developer said.

This is not the first developer that has created a fund in recent years. The Community Foundation for Prince George’s also administers the National Harbor Community Outreach grants fund, which was created to support local projects and is financed by donations from Milton V. Peterson, the developer of an entertainment and residential complex on the banks of the Potomac.

One of North America’s largest developers, the Walton Group, purchased the Westphalia site near Joint Base Andrews out of foreclosure in February 2012 and is moving forward this spring with the construction of 348 homes. The first phase of the project also includes construction of a grocery store and other retail.

Last year, the Walton Group said it was working to attract the FBI’s headquarters out of the District to Westphalia. But company officials said recently that Walton is no longer trying to lure the FBI.

The Westphalia Town Center is viewed as the core of what Westphalia will become. Westphalia, an area of 6,000 acres bounded by the Capital Beltway, Pennsylvania Avenue and Ritchie Marlboro Road, is bracing for 10,000 new homes and a town center with offices, retail and entertainment.

The town center alone is planned as an urban mixed-use development that is expected to include 5,000 housing units, nearly 6 million square feet of retail, commercial and office space, and hotels with a total of about 600 rooms. The developer says there will be about 15,000 jobs on-site. Once built, the project will contribute more than $21 million in county taxes.

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Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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