- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2001

LAS VEGAS Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening encouraged retail officials yesterday to use "Smart Growth tactics" to protect open land from commercial development.

The governor, who has been an strong advocate for Smart Growth in Maryland and nationwide pointed to several projects in the state, including Bethesda Row and the redevelopment of the American Can Co. in East Baltimore as successful results of the concept's principles.

"There is a significant economic-development component," Mr. Glendening said at a speech to the International Council of Shopping Centers' 43rd spring convention. [Smart Growth] has widespread appeal."

The idea behind Smart Growth is to develop land in existing communities near public transportation, particularly in cities and older neighborhoods. The plan preserves the area's farmland and natural resources and reduces suburban sprawl.

Smart Growth can help revitalize an area, Mr. Glendening said. For instance, the American Can Co., abandoned for more than a decade, has become a premier retail and office-space complex in the heart of Canton.

"The can company is the poster child for Smart Growth," Mr. Glendening said.

The mixed-use project, developed by Streuver Brothers, Eccles & Rouse, provides more than 700 jobs for 40 businesses including high-tech companies, restaurants and retailers. The can company's biggest retailer, bookstore Bibelot, closed last month after the locally owned chain filed for bankruptcy liquidation. Nonetheless, the area has attracted more people and more jobs.

"Smart Growth does not equate to slow economic growth," Mr. Glendening said in the nation's fastest-growing city.

The governor said the landscape of the Baltimore-Washington corridor has changed drastically over the last century.

From 1910 to 1960, Baltimore and the District had significant growth in and directly around the city. But development has grown exponentially outside city limits since then.

"It's been a continuing exodus from the cities," Mr. Glendening said. "Sprawl is not unique to the Baltimore-Washington corridor."

One of Maryland's newest Smart Growth initiatives is the planned Owings Mills Town Center, a $200 million project that will include retailers, offices, a hotel and residential units. The site is at the last stop on the Baltimore-area subway system in northwest Baltimore County.

"We wanted to create a lively entertainment [venue] and to increase ridership," said Jim Peiffer, manager of commercial development for the Maryland Mass Transit Administration.

The stop has 4,100 passengers daily, and transit officials expect that number to increase by 50 percent to 100 percent once the complex is built.

The 45-acre project, near the Owings Mills Mall, is one of several areas in Baltimore County and in the state that is designated as a Smart Growth area, which means the state helps fund the development of those areas.

"Projects outside the community or designated growth areas, the state will not help pay for," Mr. Glendening said.

The state and county are contributing about $40 million to pay for the Owings Mills Town Center's parking garage, library and community college center planned for the site, said John Infantino, vice president of LCOR, the head developer of the project.

The design of the 2,200-space parking garage is expected to begin this summer with construction starting in the fall. The next step of the town center is expected to start midyear or the end of 2002, with an expected opening in 2003.

"If you've got the right ingredients, achieving the goals of Smart Growth is not hard to do," Mr. Infantino said.

Bethesda Row, being developed by Rockville's Federal Realty Investment Trust, contains more than 331,000 square feet of retail and office space and includes a Barnes & Noble in the heart of Bethesda.

"That Barnes & Noble is the same size as its sister store in sprawling Rockville Pike and has far more [sales] per square foot," Mr. Glendening said.

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