The developer of a proposed 440-acre riverfront complex in Prince George's County south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Oxon Hill last week filed a rezoning application with the county planning board to develop the tract at the intersection of Rtes. 95 and 295 as a commercial and residential center.
The action capped two years of planning by James H. Burch, president of the James H. Burch Co. He hopes to build restaurants, retail shops, 1.6 million square feet of office space, parks, a marina, a 500-room hotel and about 1,000 residential units at a cost of about $500 million if the application is approved. The development, to be called Smoot Bay Waterfront Center, is adjacent to the Capital Beltway west of Oxon Hill Road and includes one mile of Potomac River shoreline, said Smoot, who previously has developed a few small subdivisions in Northern Virginia.
Zoning approval would permit commercial construction in an area now restricted to residential use, said Rita Mannheimer, a lawyer with Zanecki and Lally, attorneys for the developer. The application requests a change from RR zoning (rural-residential) to MXT, a mixed-use planning zone recently adopted by the county council. The approval process could take about a year, Mannheimer said.
A master plan for the area--adopted earlier this year by the county council following seven years of work by a citizens task force and county officials--notes that the Smoot Bay area "presents a great potential for a unique type of development" that would "not have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods." The plan also calls for a "new access road" to protect those communities.
"We generally support the concept plan for the waterfront center , with one major reservation and two minor reservations," said Alan W. Ritter, president of the citizens association at Tantallon, the upper-priced subdivision about six miles south of the site.
The group's principle concern is that major access to the center not be from Oxon Hill Road or Indian Head Highway, which would lessen the environmental impact on existing neighborhoods in the area, Ritter said. "We will be opposed" to the development if primary entry via Rte. 295 and the Capital Beltway is not included in the final plan, he said.
The group also wants assurance that a large green area will serve as a buffer between existing homes adjacent to the parcel and the construction area, he said.
In addition, the group is concerned about the former site of an Indian village that lies within the development area. "We want to see historians take over before the builders," Ritter said.
A spokesman for the neighboring Riverbend citizens association said his group has given "tentative approval" to the proposal.
Burch said his company has made deposits and "owns contracts to buy the land" from the three current owners, pending the expected zoning approval. One of owners, Smoot Sand and Gravel Co., created the bay there during two decades of dredging for sand and gravel, he said.