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Savage MARC Station Development Moves Ahead

Developers plan to build 416 residential units, office and commercial space where a parking lot currently sits at the Savage Marc station.

A plan to develop a 12-acre parking lot next to the Savage MARC station is moving ahead with the County Council's approval of two bills to finance the garage.

The plan, now being called Annapolis Junction Town Center, is to build a 704-space parking garage where the current lot is. This will free up the space needed to build 416 residential units, 100,000 square feet of office space, 14,000 square feet of retail space and a 150-room hotel, according to the plan presented to the County Council.

Developers have also purchased a six acre site near the parking lot that will be included in the development, according to the plan.

The development is part of a larger statwide plan being implemented by the Maryland Department of Transportation to develop areas around mass transit stations to cut down on traffic and put land back on the tax rolls.

"Currently it's a wide open parking area that's not generating any tax revenue," said Howard County's Finance Director Stanley Milesky. "Here we can respond to growth needs of the county by putting this right next to an existing transportation park."

The Savage development was first pitched in 2009, and the Council moved ahead with it. But the developers couldn't obtain financing from banks after the bottom fell out of the housing market so the plan went dormant, said Milesky.

"That market has changed over the last year," said Milesky. "Interest rates have fallen."

In order to start the project, the county approved the issuance of $17 million in tax increment financing district bonds that will fund the construction costs of the public parking garage.

Milesky said the county will pay off the bonds with the additional tax revenue generated by the businesses and residents who move into the new development.

"Under state law, we can apply a growth in real property tax revenues to pay for a public improvement," said Milesky.

Milesky said that Municap, a Howard County firm with a strong national reputation, analyzed the potential tax revenue created by the development as well as the cost of services attributed to new residents and business moving into the county.

"It should be enough tax revenue to not only pay for [the parking garage], but also for the services associated with [the development]," said Milesky.

But even if taxes are not adequate to satisfy the payments required by the bond, the county added a provision that the developers would be forced to pay the difference.

"It guarantees that the risk associated [with the project] is with the developer," said Milesky.

Also, if the developers make a significant profit, then they must share any profit over 20 percent with the county until the bonds for the parking garage are paid off, added Milesky.

Currently, the development is being overseen by a division of Petrie Ross Ventures ,which has enlisted Somerset Construction to oversee construction, according to Council testimony.

In addition to the planned residences, office space and retail; two additional parking garages are planned, one for the residences and one for the office space, according to Council testimony.

Milesky said the developers would pay for those parking garages.

The construction schedule was not available.

Milesky said that the development still requires work to be finished by the Maryland Department of Transportation before the project can begin. But, he said bonds may be issued in early summer and that a groundbreaking could happen in the summer.

"We're excited about it," said Milesky.

The Savage MARC station is located near Route 32 off of Dorsey Run Road in Savage.

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