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County, developer, forge pact on old school site


The former Calvert Middle School was razed in 2012.

Prince Frederick, MD  - A plan designed to get a long-anticipated, languishing project started advanced forward Tuesday, June 16. The Calvert County Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the board president to sign an exclusive negotiating rights agreement (ENRA) with a developer—Bargo LLC—for the development of land within the New Town District Planning Area in Prince Frederick.

The tract includes the parcel where the old Calvert Middle School stood. The 60-year-old building was razed in 2012. The parcel is owned by the county.

The potential development of the property was the subject of a planning charrette in June of 2013. Craig Lewis of The Lawrence Group presented a concept plan for the Prince Frederick Town Center. In addition to recommending the expansion of the town center boundaries and reforming the county’s transfer of development rights (TDR) program, the consultant presented four separate plans for the development of “Armory Square.”

The ENRA will be in effect for four months.

“This has been a long time coming,” stated Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R - District 3]. “It’s a big step forward.”

Slaughenhoupt acknowledged there has been much frustration expressed by county residents about the slow pace at which the Armory Square plan has been moving.

The four main components of the planned development are high-end commercial retail, mixed residential units, green space and a community center.

“We’re elated that they chose us,” said John Gott Jr., who along with Randy Barrett is a principal of Bargo LLC. Both Gott and Barrett are Calvert County residents.

Gott told The Bay Net the developers are committed to adhering to the vision that was formed during the 2013 charrette. Gott stated he could not divulge what retailers might possibly be coming to Prince Frederick to occupy the site. He did however, state that Bargo LLC intended to identify “things that the county is now lacking—larger retail to try to get sales revenue for the county.”

Gott confirmed that Bargo has concept plans, however, nothing that can be made public at this time. As part of the agreement, Bargo has provided a $50,000 “good faith” deposit to the county

Commissioner Tom Hejl [R - At large] stated he was pleased a local developer. “They are both very excited,” said Hejl. “We need to see the shovel in the dirt.”

Commissioner Mike Hart [R - District 1] indicated he was pleased county officials are not waiting for the Prince Frederick Town Center Master Plan to be revised before the Armory Square project gets started. Hart labeled that strategy “paralysis by analysis.”

Keeping county residents spending money within Calvert’s parameters would provide a boost to the local economy, Hart surmised. “We just need some amenities.” He stated.

Slaughenhoupt added that the anticipated commercial development would help keep residential property taxes down.

Gott predicted the Armory Square plan “will be a lot farther along” by October when the four-month agreement expires.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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