Plans for a developer to construct four office buildings inside the fence line at Naval Air Station Patuxent River under DOD’s enhanced use leasing (EUL) program continue to move forward despite resistance from the business community in southern Maryland.
Hines is poised to reach a deal with the Navy to build four, 150,000-square-foot office buildings, an initiative Maryland officials and local advocates for the base favor as a way to enhance the mission at Pax River as a possible round of base closure looms, reported BayNet.com.
The Navy needs the project, which has the potential to encompass seven sites and 2 million square feet of space, to accommodate 3,000 Naval Air Systems Command workers now housed in trailers on base. Local developers, however, fear the project would compete with vacant office space in the surrounding communities.
To address the community’s concerns, Robin Finnacom, acting head of the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development, last month said in a memo: “The Navy is expected to lease all of the space to alleviate a chronic lack of office facilities. The EUL project is seen as critical to strengthening the Navy’s capacity to handle current and future projected levels of work and is considered necessary to improving Pax’s standing in any future rounds of BRAC.”
The EUL project should help protect Pax River against that possibility that some of its activities are shifted elsewhere following the next BRAC round. “I don’t believe Pax River is under threat of closure,” said Michael Hayes, program director of the state office of military affairs.
The first phase of its project would cover one of the office buildings, according to Hines. An agreement previously reached with the Navy would bar the project from including retail uses such as restaurants. County and Navy officials also plan to hammer out an agreement to compensate St. Mary’s for lost tax revenue.
A Hines representative said he hopes to have a final EUL signed by all parties by the end of the summer, according to the story.