ICC pieces fall into place for Konterra
Land swap paves way for 2,200-acre Laurel development
With arrangements now in place for constructing key connector roads, Prince George's readies to embark on an economic development project in Laurel that could surpass National Harbor in terms of job creation.
The developers of Konterra, a 2,200-acre mixed-used development, have entered into a joint agreement with state and county officials to donate the 240 acres of land needed for the final leg of the Intercounty Connector. When completed in 2014, the ICC will link Prince George's Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 corridors with Montgomery County's I-370.
"You hear that noise up there, the sound of traffic moving forward ..." said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) as he stood below the bridge being constructed for the ICC at a news conference Tuesday. "... For those of us in Prince George's, it's a beautiful sound. It's the sound of jobs coming this way."
The state and Konterra officials have negotiated in regard to the contested 240 acres since 2007, after the state sought to acquire the land through eminent domain. Through the new agreement, Konterra will donate the land and an additional 83 acres required for State Highway Administration improvements in the area in exchange for the state paying $30 million toward the cost of a four-lane state highway known as Virginia Manor Road Extended. Prince George's will reimburse the state with $10 million in cash and county-owned land. Virginia Manor Extended will connect the ICC/Virginia Manor Road interchange with a new I-95 Contee Road interchange, which will be constructed by the highway administration, and will continue to west to connect this new interchange with Old Gunpowder Road.
The improvements the highway administration, county and developer have agreed will accelerate the Konterra development, according to a state news release.
"We are focused on getting our people back to work," Gov. Martin O' Malley (D) said at the news conference. He emphasized Konterra will boost economic development in northern Prince George's, referring to the tri-party deal as a "landmark agreement."
O'Malley thanked the Konterra developers, Kingdon Gould Jr. and his son Caleb Gould, for cooperating to allow the state to move forward with the ICC plan without the costs of going to court to acquire the land.
Forest City Washington, which is partnering on Konterra with the Gould family, has anticipated the linkage with the ICC as a critical piece to continuing with the project.
"Obviously, this is a very important step to the next big step in this project," said Thomas G. Archer, senior vice president of development for Forest City Washington. "It's just a fabulous feeling to be part of this. It's a true example of a public and private partnership that's great for the state and the county."
When fully built out, Konterra is projected to create 30,000 jobs including 3,500 direct and indirect construction jobs during the first phase of its construction and generate $31 million in Prince George's tax revenues and $65 million in state taxes, according to state officials. Plans call for a 488-acre mixed-use town center known as Konterra Town Center East, retail and hospitality venues, technology campuses, educational institutions, and residential and business communities. In comparison, the 300-acre National Harbor mixed-used development in Oxon Hill is expected to provide more than 5,000 jobs when fully built out, including 1,800 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.
"We're very excited. This is a very unusual opportunity to develop such a dynamic place. We think it will be well-received; we think the market is ripe for commencing," Caleb Gould said.
Kingdon Gould acquired the land 30 years ago when he first started to envision Konterra as a "mixed-use center of quality."
"The day is here," he said.
Although Konterra is just one of the county's many ongoing projects, it is one of the most significant ones, said Carla Reid, deputy chief administration officer for the county's economic development team.
"I can't think of another project that's going to create as many jobs in Prince George's," she said.
The highway administration will began inviting contractors to bid for construction contracts on this final leg of the ICC in May, with construction to begin in early 2012 and finish in late 2014. The contract also will include an option for additional contracts on the ICC/Virginia Manor Road interchange and to extend the ICC to U.S. 1, contingent on available funding within the previously approved ICC financial plan, according to state officials.