Complex Could Bring 5,000 Jobs to Pr. George's County

By Greg Gaudio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 26, 2009; 6:46 PM

At least two developers are vying to lure the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from its outdated Rockville complex to spacious new digs in Prince George's County.

Each firm is interested in building almost 1 million square feet of office space for HHS near a Metro stop in Prince George's County. If constructed, such a complex would relocate about 5,000 federal jobs to the county, fatten property tax coffers and serve as a major anchor near a transit station.

"Of course it would have a huge impact on the county," said Patricia Thornton, a spokeswoman for the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp.

But the owner of the Parklawn Building in Rockville, HHS's current complex housing about 3,000 employees, would like to renovate that facility to keep the department there.

The General Services Administration, which oversees development for the executive branch, expects to select a developer for the project by the end of the year, spokesman Michael McGill said.

"This is a big lease," he said. "And both Montgomery and Prince George's counties are very eager to try to capture it."

McGill declined to say how many firms sent in bids.

When its lease expires July 31, 2010, HHS has the option of staying in the 18-story Parklawn, one of the largest privately owned buildings in the state, or moving.

The GSA has been accepting proposals for a 935,000-square-foot office building in suburban Maryland, which it would lease for HHS. The project's prospectus estimates that the lease would run for 15 years at $30 million a year.

The new space would combine HHS offices at Parklawn with those in three other locations: 6010 Executive Blvd. and Rockwall I, both in Rockville, and Silver Spring Centre in Silver Spring.

One developer, the Carl Williams Group, is proposing a 24-story building for four acres near the New Carrollton Station, said John Lally, an attorney for the company. "I can't even tell you what this bid has cost to put together," he said. "It's massive."

Lally said New Carrollton is an ideal location because many modes of transportation converge there. The station is the eastern terminus of Metro's Orange Line and a stop for MARC and Amtrak trains and a variety of bus lines. Maryland also proposes to make the station the eastern terminus for a light-rail Purple Line between Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

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