Prince George's County, long considered the impoverished relation among Washington suburban jurisdictions, may face a brighter economic future, according to a consultant's study that calls the county "the hottest business property in the Washington area."
Asserting that a "variety of favorable factors . . . have converged to spur development" in Prince George's, consultant George Grier of Grier Partnership of Silver Spring said the county is "quickly making up for lost time in the race to attract high-tech and office businesses."
County Executive Parris Glendening hailed the study, commissioned by the First American Bank of Maryland and released last week, as a confirmation of the optimistic views he has expressed since taking office a year ago.
"This decade appears to be the decade for Prince George's County," said Glendening. "There was a time when almost everything seemed to be in Montgomery, then in Fairfax or the District of Columbia. I think, clearly, now the dominance is shifting over here."
In his report, Grier noted that in 1979, office space development in the county accelerated from only 100,000 square feet completed to 600,000 square feet, and then in 1982 jumped again to 1.1 million square feet completed.
Though the county was second among the area's three largest suburban jurisdictions in new office space added in 1982 (below Montgomery but ahead of Fairfax), Prince George's leads the three in planned office space construction. And although many of the newly built offices were vacant a few months ago, Grier noted that most of the space now appears to be rented or filled.
Grier said factors promoting development include: good transportation routes from Washington to Baltimore; a relatively favorable tax climate for business; a policy to encourage business development and construction of middle- to upper-priced homes; and a population mix "better equipped to meet the labor force needs of the future."
Though the county has long been noted for the dramatic increase in its black population during the 1970s--from 13 percent in 1970 to close to 40 percent a decade later, Grier reported that many of the white, blue-collar residents who left the county were replaced by "younger, upwardly mobile black households," a change that has been accompanied by a sharp rise in average incomes.
"I'm glad he noted that the total population is stable but has shifted," said Glendening, "a shift that many people saw as racial but which was really a shift toward higher income, higher educated young families of both races."
Grier noted that the county still has potential problems. While rental, land, and tax costs for businesses may be low in comparison to surrounding jurisdictions, the state and local tax burden on resident families is still one of the area's highest.
Construction of a major cross-county metro route, the Green Line, is still in doubt, in part because of political conflicts within the county over the destinations at both ends. But Grier maintained that housing costs for families are still reasonable, and said the Green Line "may not be needed" to spur development.
The report was prepared for First American to assist in a decision to expand the bank's corporate presence in the county. add f Economic Indicators
The Department of the Treasury will release today the Treasury Statement, the monthly budget, for August.
On Wednesday, the Department of Commerce will release export and import merchandise trade figures for August.
On Thursday, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board will issue a release on savings and loan association activity for August.
On Friday, the Department of Commerce will release sales and inventories of single-family homes for August.
On Friday, the Department of Commerce will release composite indexes of leading, coincident and lagging indicators for August.
On Friday, the Department of Agriculture will release agricultural prices as of mid-September.