Westphalia project aims to develop Upper Marlboro

Ben Robertson experienced the impact of the economic downturn at his civil engineering firm in Upper Marlboro. He says they laid off about 65 percent of his staff during the last recession and is hoping to stabilize and rebuild.

He now remains optimistic following Wednesday's briefing on the Westphalia project - a development near his workplace that aims to build 15,000 dwelling units plus retail and commercial space.

It will mean new jobs, and a chance for Robertson to expand his business.

“It's the largest opportunity that has come to this area in a long time,” Robertson says.

It's a project that many people have waited for since its approval in 2007.

Residents saw some progress but plans stalled for several years when the original developer defaulted on a loan. Then came the recession.

“The market was very down and we had a number of builders who were actually not able to move forward,” says Nell Johnson, chief of staff for council member Derrick Leon Davis, District 6.

Five years later, the stakeholders are back and ready to put the plans in action.

“We had been watching this property, and when it became available we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to acquire a great piece of land, and execute a vision that's been in the making for many years,” says John Vick, regional vice president of Walton Development & Management.

Three developers are on-board so far. And on Wednesday, small business owners learned how they could compete for future contracts, including Christina Issar, president of a local real estate consulting firm.

“Things kind of take place in 10 year cycles so I do believe we are on the upward start of something big,” says Issar of Cb3 Consulting Services. “So I do expect this project and other projects in the county to add value to the county and also to the residents.”

Some of the developers already committed to the project say that work can begin as soon as this year. The entire project is expected take between 20 to 30 years to complete.