Stock up on Perrier water. Lay the clay for the new tennis courts. Open the garage doors to accommodate the BMW's. The yuppies are coming to Prince George's County.
At least that's what Lance Billingsley would like to see. Billingsley is a 44-year-old attorney and chairman of the board of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation who says the county is missing out on the suburban migration of young upwardly mobile professionals.
He told the Prince George's County Council yesterday that single professionals, or those married with few or no children, have trouble in Prince George's County finding the kind of luxury housing they like.
"They're living in Gaithersburg, Damascus and Columbia," he said of the young, high-income professionals who increasingly are drawn to jobs in light industry and high-tech firms that have sprung up around the Beltway.
Prince George's needs new rental housing -- the type with a fitness club in the basement -- to attract this population, Billingsley said during a public hearing on the county's housing policy.
Billingsley's remarks reflect an emerging attitude on the part of county officials who believe that the county can enhance its image and strengthen its revenue base if it can encourage employes of new businesses to live and work in the county.
A 30-page report on proposed housing policy that was aired before the council recommends, among other things, that the county give priority to housing projects suitable for high-income residents.
Major Riddick, the director of the county Department of Housing and Community Development, said that if Prince George's can attract some of the new breed of professionals while they are young and unattached, they will eventually buy homes -- and pay property taxes -- in the county.
Prince George's County housing currently is made up mostly of older single-family homes and sprawling garden apartments. There are few of the luxury high-rises and renovated town houses that monied professionals have been drawn to in the District, Montgomery and Virginia.
To create an upscale image for Prince George's, the county has embarked on new projects such as the Maryland Trade Center Park in Greenbelt, the Maryland Science and Technology Center near Bowie and the Inglewood Business Community near the Capital Centre.
Council member Sue V. Mills said that she fears that the push toward luxury housing might end up being discriminatory. "He's talking about a higher economic level resident, and we have been sadly lacking in offering that type of housing in the county," said Mills. "But you can't say, 'no married people and no kids.' "