City Staff Recommends Approval of Melford Amendment
Council is scheduled to vote on the amendment following a public hearing at Monday's legislative meeting.
After reviewing the potential fiscal and other impacts of a proposed mixed-use development on the Melford property, the city of Bowie staff has recommended the Bowie City Council approve an amendment to change the covenants on the property.
The amendment would pave the way for thousands of new units of housing and retail on the site—including 500 units of dedicated senior housing, high-density multi-family units, townhomes, service retail and office space.
The recommendation comes after city staff reviewed financial and other implications of a mixed-use development on the property, according to the staff report dated Feb. 27 and issued by City Manager David Deutsch.
Based on the financial analysis performed by the city staff, the proposed mixed use development would net the city $1,591,756 in new tax revenue per year at full build out.
“These numbers are very conservative, so there is no doubt the numbers will be better than portrayed,” said Deutsch. “We’ve never recommended to council an annexation that was not a net gain.”
For a detailed explanation of the Fiscal Impact Analysis (FIA), check the city report here.
The city staff also believes—based on several studies including this one by Stephen Fuller—that increasing the uses for the Melford property will serve to stimulate and revitalize the currently flagging office park on the site.
“The idea of the old office park doesn’t work any more," said Deutsch. "It’s not how the real-estate economy works, it’s not how the world functions anymore.”
In addition to allowing for mixed-use development on the property, the covenants also give the city increased authority over the property, he added.
“The company is granting— via the covenants on the property—full veto authority [and] full site plan approval authority to the city council,” Deutsch said.
The covenants also require that at least 20 percent of any residential build be reserved for senior-restricted housing. If the property achieves full build out under the current proposal, it would more than double the available senior housing in the city, he added.
The city council will consider the resolution to amend the covenants on Monday during their regular legislative session. The vote will follow brief presentations by the city manager and by St. John’s. Residents will get a chance to speak out on the recommendation during a public hearing before the vote as well.
If the council chooses to support the resolution on Monday, it will be signed Tuesday morning. Then it will be up to St. John’s to present the city with a proposal. The proposal will likely trigger a six- to nine-month review process, said Deutsch.
From there, it would be up to the city council to approve or disapprove any plans.
If the resolution is voted down, the covenants will stand and residential development will still be prohibited on the Melford property.