Canyon-Johnson Equity Paves Way for New Baltimore-Area Mixed-Use Project

The Oxford Square transit-oriented development project in Hanover, Md., just got a substantial boost--in the form of preferred equity capital totaling $17.5 million from Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds. And while mixed-use projects are hardly rare in the area today, BRAC promises to increase demand in the near future.

Baltimore-based Preston Partners’ plans for Oxford Square, a 1.6 million-square-foot, mixed-use transit-oriented development project in Hanover, Md., just got a substantial boost. The Los Angeles-headquartered Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds has come through with preferred equity capital totaling $17.5 million for the 122 acres of land the Baltimore-area development will occupy.

The Canyon-Johnson funds will finance the purchase, rezoning and pre-development of the sprawling two-parcel site, which carries the title of the single-largest undeveloped TOD-zoned property in the region. The Howard County Zoning Board just gave the final green light for the project in July.

Oxford Square will sit six miles from the Fort Meade army installation, five miles from Baltimore/Washington International Airport and a stone’s throw from public transportation that will facilitate easy access to Washington, D.C., and major federal government locations in Maryland and Northern Virginia. As current plans dictate, the property, which will be developed in phases, will ultimately encompass 630,000 square feet of premier office and retail space, approximately 950 multi-family residences, a school occupying 20 acres and parking to accommodate 2,250 vehicles for the residential and guest populations.

There is hardly a loud cry for a 1.6 million-square-foot mixed-use development in Greater Baltimore today, as the area did not escape the impact of the recession; however, a few years could make all the difference. It is more than the typical recovery that is on the horizon for Greater Baltimore. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, which is scheduled to reach completion in September 2011, will result in the addition of approximately 5,400 military, Defense Department, civilian and contractor employees at neighboring Fort Meade, along with 4,900 family members, according to the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. The BRAC-induced increase in population will go hand in hand with an increase in demand for office space, residential offerings and community retail.

Preston Partners is just one of a bevy of developers moving forward with local projects to accommodate the impending commercial real estate demand that BRAC will generate over the short and long terms. The Howard County Council approved General Growth Properties Inc.’s 20-year master plan for the development of Columbia, Md.’s 390-acre downtown area. At full build-out, the project will yield as much as 4.3 million square feet of office space, approximately 1.3 million square feet of retail space, 5,500 residential units and 640 hotel rooms. As per Howard County officials, growth at Fort Meade will have resulted in an aggregate 22,000 new jobs by 2015.