- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2005

Once a tiny but thriving railroad stop named Huntington, Bowie has become the third-largest city in Maryland, behind Baltimore and Rockville.

With a population tipping 55,000, Bowie encompasses that old rail stop plus more than 2,000 acres of alphabetized subdivisions known as Levitt Bowie because they were developed and sold in 1960s by Levitt Co.

Bowie is still expanding beyond its 16 square miles, annexing new subdivisions as they sprout up on its outskirts.

“I think Bowie is a surprise, even to native Marylanders,” says John Henry King, director of economic development for the city of Bowie. “It’s been a really quiet community where, with the Levitt homes, you could get a real house for the price you would pay for a town house. You’d have a front yard, a back yard and a little distance between neighbors.”

Now, however, even Levitt homes are commanding top dollar as buyers vie for communities close to the Capital Beltway.

Bowie’s location — midway between Washington and Annapolis — combined with such top-notch community amenities as a public gymnasium and senior center, city parks and museums, shuttle bus and snowplows, makes it a popular place to live.

“The general population of the universe has no idea what we’ve got here,” says Pam Williams, Bowie’s assistant director of museums, “but a lot of the people who moved into Levitt homes in the 1960s still live here, and their children are moving here as well. There is a distinct quality of life in this town.”

As a result, the building business is booming.

Inside the city limits, K & P Builders Inc. is ready to break ground on Peach Preserve at the corner of Mitchellville and Mount Oak roads. The development will contain four-bedroom, 21/2-bath single-family homes with two-car garages. About half will have brick fronts. Prices start in the low $600,000s.

The same firm has started building roads in Spring Meadows, where 50 single-family homes will begin to take shape in December. Built on half-acre clusters, the four-bedroom, 21/2-bath homes are being annexed by the city of Bowie. Prices will begin at $600,900.

Outside the city limits, says Joe Meinert, city director of planning and economic development, the concentration of construction is taking place along winding Church Road.

“It’s sort of the Church Road corridor effect,” Mr. Meinert says. “It used to concentrate on Woodmore because of the golf course. Now Church Road is where it’s all occurring.”

Fairwood, a massive 3,500-unit subdivision, is in its third year of construction on Maryland Route 450. Developer Rouse Co. of Columbia has divided the property among nine builders who are stretching construction over the next decade. A swimming pool with a baby pool and clubhouse opened this spring, and tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields are being developed. Rouse even is building an elementary school to meet the demands of new families.

“This will be a very nice, very large subdivision,” says Bill Stewart, sales representative at Fairwood for Ryland Homes Inc. “It will even try to get its own ZIP code. It will have more people than the entire county in Maine where I have a home.”

Ryland’s lots vary in size. The builder offers eight models to accommodate different lots. The last three homes were sold for $591,000. All have four bedrooms, 21/2 bathrooms, full basements and two-car garages.

“We figure there are four or five buyers for each lot that is released from the developer,” Mr. Stewart says. “It’s just wild.”

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