The Shell Oil Co. has contracted to buy 83 acres of prime industrial land near the proposed New Carrollton Metro site. The development, which would include office buildings, a major hotel, restaurants and retail space, would be one of largest developments of its kind in the county.
Shell is expected to deliver a concept development plan to the Maryland Capital Park and Planning Commission today.
"It is a showpiece piece of ground," said Russell Shipley of Upper Marlboro, attorney for Shell. "Shell thinks the Washington area has good growth potential, with attractions for many high quality users."
Shipley said Shell conceives of the site, located in the center of the triangle formed by I-495, Rte. 50 and the Penn Central Railroad line, as an office and research and development park, with an adjacent 500-room high-rise "high quality" hotel, two or three large restaurants, and later retail facilities.
The land contract, in which Shell is paying $3.8 million in cash to Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, a Boston development firm is expected to come to settlement within the next 45 days, Shipley said. It is estimated that Shell will spend approximately $7 to $8 million before it reaps any return on its investment, Shipley said.
The Prince George's County Council has already asked the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to grant the project a 204,400 gallon sewage allocation, a necessary step before the development can begin. The WSSC says it may consider the sewage request at a board meeting on May 18.
The project still faces one major hurdle - zoning. The area Shell is purchasing is zoned I-1, or light industrial, appropriate for the office, research, light industry and restaurants proposed for the site. However, hotels are specifically prohibited in the zone.
Shipley said that the Shell will probably asked the council, which also makes zoning decisions for a change in the I-1 structure to permit hotels as a special exception.
Council sources say that zoning changes will not be a problem. "This is a major project. If we had more time to do the zoning first, we would. But we had to give strong signals to Shell. We want them to be here," said one source.
John Lally, press aide to County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., concurred. "This is the most effective type of economic development for the area. It should serve to develop the whole New Carrollton quadrant. It's really a fantastic shot in the arm for us."
The area's growth potential has improved with the increased access to the property. The New Carrollton Metro center, the largest station in the county, will be combined with the Amtrak Beltway stop at the western side of the Shell property. Maryland Department of Transportation plans to build an access ramp off Rte. 50 into the station to increase access into the area when the combined stations are scheduled to open in July 1978.
An unofficial concept plan indicates Shell would begin work on grading, permits and interior roadwork within the next six months. Shell plans to take the land into the finished lots and then lease or sell the lots to other builders.
Shell spokesman Frank Stainton said the company "does not intend to build any Shell facilities there. But we do plan to maintain control as to what is going to be built in the area."