Construction will begin next week on a $100-million, 350-acre industrial park featuring parks, bike trails, tennis courts and open space. The development near Laurel was announced this week by Prince George's County and Knott Industries, Inc., the developer.
Designer for light manufacturing firms and office space, the project called Ammendale Business Campus will be constructed along Rte. 1 about two miles northeast of the Beltway and I-95.
Knott Industries, Inc., of Baltimore, bought the rural land from the Christian Brothers, who will retain the Ammendale Normal Institute, a retirement center.
Officials for the corporation said the project, based at the entrance of the Baltimore-Washington corridor, will employ between 5,000 and 7,000 people and will have a payroll of $90 million.
Frank McGuinness, executive vice president for Knott Industries, said the first building to be constructed will be a 60,000-square-foot, three-story office building that will be occupied by Arbitron, a division of Control Data, Inc.
McGuinness said negotiations to construct the industrial park began 10 years ago when the president of his company, Charles A. Knott, began negotiating with the Christian Brothers.
"There are a number of problems of this land including the sewer moratorium and our inability to find out whether or not the county wanted us," said McGuinness. The vice president said the corporation is the first to go through a complicated comprehensive zoning procedure that he says delayed his project more than two years and cost his company half a million dollars.
McGuinness explained that Prince George's County is one of a number of local governments that are getting more and more involved in the zoning process and are ultimately delaying the construction of projects.
"I'm not singling out Prince George's County. In fact I am betwixt and between, because the county executive tried to cut red tape while our project was being delayed," he said.
Emphasizing that Prince George's County provides the rightr climate for the project's development, McGuinness said his company is eager to continue the relationship with Prince George's county.
Describing the project as a "collegiate"-looking campus, the marketing manager of the company, John Sundergill, who was formerly with Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., said the project will not destroy the Ammendale Normal Institute and the project will attempt to maintain the semi-rural setting.
"We're going to try to emphasize light manufacturing companies, because we feel the Washington area is more suited for that type of development. We're going to be looking for upper level, white collar types of business to fill our business campus," said McGuinness. He added that his corporation has another industrial park at the other end of the Baltimore-Washington corridor called Meadows Industrial Park, 0I 600 acres, which is virtually sold out.
John Lally, spokesman for Prince George's County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., said, "Nobody can say what we did thought them in . . . Kelly met with the rest of the company and then asked the County Economic Development Corporation to work with them."
The county executive's new quality campaign to umift Prince George's County economically may have contributed to the corporation's final decision to move into the county, Lally said, but added that the corporation was conducting negotiations before Kelly was elected.