Prince George's County yesterday announced that the Christian Brothers religious order will develop one of the largest, most comprehensive business parks in the region.
Ritz Camera Centers, Inc. immediately announced it will move its corporate headquarters to the new 200-acre site just off the Capital Beltway between U.S. Route 1 and Interstate 95.
The planned community, called the Ammendale Business Campus, will contain about 2.7 million square feet of office, research and development and industrial space when fully developed, a process that is expected to take 10 to 15 years. The project will require about $200 million to complete, said Kenneth H. Michael, president of the firm that is developing the property for Christian Brothers.
Ritz, which is moving its headquarters from Beltsville, will invest about $4 million in a 75,000 square-foot facility that will contain a distribution center, showroom and retail store, as well as its corporate headquarters. The new facility should be ready for occupancy early next March, said David Ritz, president of the company.
Ritz's decision to remain in the county is considered a significant boost to Prince George's business retention program and efforts to attract more national corporate headquarters to the jurisdiction.
Describing the Ritz relocation decision as a major step, County Executive Parris Glendening also hailed the Christian Brothers-Michael Companies partnership as an "exciting" development in Prince George's long range economic development plan.
Ritz, which recently bought 41 stores from Fotomat Corp., is the nation's largest retailer of camera and photographic equipment. A family-owned company, the expansion-minded Ritz now operates more than 150 stores nationwide.
At least seven other companies are in various stages of negotiations with the Kenneth H. Michaels Companies and are soon expected to announce plans to build facilities at the Ammendale Business Campus, a company official said. At the same time, several other developers plan to build speculative buildings that will be available for occupancy early next year.
Three parcels, each designated for different types of commercial and industrial uses, will be developed simultaneously, although initially most activity will be concentrated in a 119-acre section identified as parcel No. 2. Essentially that area will contain sites for office and research and development activities. At the southern edge of the rolling, wooded property, 56 acres will be developed for office complexes, while 26 acres in the northernmost sector have been designated for storage and distribution facilities.
The Ammendale Business Campus is part of a 400-acre parcel which the Christian Brothers have owned for more than 100 years. The property had been the site of the order's novitiate, junior novitiate and secondary school.