Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Amazon Would Have Brought More Businesses to Westphalia: Developer

The company behind a residential and commercial development in Upper Marlboro said a proposed Amazon warehouse would’ve brought more retail and other businesses.

Ed Fleming, executive vice president of Walton Global Holdings, said in an interview Tuesday several other businesses planned to move into the Westphalia neighborhood built parallel to Pennsylvania Avenue, one of Prince George’s County’s longest and busiest highways.

Fleming stressed one of the aspects of the Amazon venture, labeled a merchandise logistics center on the site plan, was that it proposed to generate about 3,400 daily vehicle trips to the 78-acre site. Additionally, it would’ve been open for 24 hours and produced 1,800 jobs.

Millions of office space with about four or five buildings would’ve produced 30,000 trips, he said.

“It was a pretty good deal when you look at the logistics center,” he said. “If you can’t get the office space because you don’t have Metrorail and it’s tough to get some of that retail, then it became a natural progression to get a client like Amazon to be able to come to a space like that.”

The applicant, Duke Partnership Limited Corp. of Conshocken, Pennsylvania, also registered as Duke Realty headquartered in Indianapolis, planned to house Amazon as a tenant. The company informed Walton Holdings that Amazon decided to withdraw Aug. 23, the same day it became public.

One of the main reasons Walton couldn’t specifically name Amazon as the tenant was a “nondisclosure agreement,” which requires confidential information about a company not be released.

As rumors swirled that Amazon would move into the county, area residents opposed the online retail giant’s location to the 78-acre site. Residents hired attorney G. Macy Nelson of Towson for a legal challenge when the project planned to be heard either this month or next month before District Council, a body comprised of county council members who review land-use and zoning matters.

Walton owns the Westphalia Town Center property, but not nearby Parkside.

The Wall Street Journal reported in May that Amazon restructured old shopping malls in Northeast Ohio helped attract other businesses based on space, “near centers of population” and proximity to a highway.

Although Amazon isn’t coming to Upper Marlboro, residents still plan to push the county for a zoning change that would eliminate entirely the prospect of a logistics center in their neighborhood. Earlier this year, the council amended the mixed-use transportation-oriented zoning district to allow for that type of business on the property.

In the meantime, Fleming said retail, restaurants and other businesses are still planned for Westphalia Town Center, but the development would come in phases, with proposals such as a movie theater or grocery store.

The other possibilities for the property include a fire/EMS station, an elementary or middle school, a library and fitness center.

Utilities are already on the property so businesses will come, Fleming said.

“We’re going to reassess, take a deep breath and … get some community involvement,” he said.

Fleming said a goal would be to create a small community advisory group for residents and the county to discuss future plans not only for the proposed logistics center property, but the rest of the site as well.

Approximately 1,300 more homes are still slated to be built at Westphalia Town Center.

John Erzen, spokesman for county Executive Angela Alsobrooks, said meetings will be set up to continue talks so residents receive the businesses “they were promised.”

In regard to an advisory group, he said, “there has not been any kind of agreement or anything to set up an advisory group at this point.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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