The 268-acre Arundel Preserve mixed-use community is evolving into an economic jewel for Anne Arundel County, said county officials and developers who have honed the vision for the project for more than a decade.
Located two miles from Fort Meade and four miles from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Arundel Preserve (which is part of the 1,100-acre Arundel Mills Development, which includes Arundel Mills Mall and surrounding businesses) is a project that fits well within the county’s master plan, which calls for a variety of uses, particularly along its western corridor, said Robert Hannon, president and CEO of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.
Hannon commended master developer Michael Caruthers, president of Somerset Construction, and Neil Greenberg, Somerset’s chief operating officer, for their long-term commitment to developing a community that has been built in sync with the continued growth in the market.
“Mike Caruthers has been at work on this for probably 13 years, and he has been able to make the transition from a planning mentality to substantial development,” said Hannon, noting the importance of its location near Fort Meade.
When built out, Arundel Preserve offers more than 2 million square feet of office space; 250,000 square feet of retail space; The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, a boutique hotel; 47 single-family homes; 390 townhomes and 738 apartments.
Dropping the Anchor
Hannon theorized that Caruthers’ background as a geographer contributed to his ability to pick such a prime spot. Caruthers acknowledged that, when he studied and graduated from University of Maryland, he chose geography because, at the time, that was as close as he could get to urban planning.
With regard to Arundel Preserve, is it Caruthers’ foresight or just plain luck that led to such a great match of location to market?
“As we get older, we realize the harder we work, the luckier we get,” said Caruthers. “We owned 1,100 acres in what we thought was a prime spot in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. We held off doing anything with the property until we had what we considered the anchor,” which turned out to be Arundel Mills. “Everything else revolved around, that and it was a long time coming.”
Caruthers said that two market-rippling changes led to the decision to build Arundel Preserve as a neo-classical community with stringent architectural controls: the expansion of Fort Meade and the increase in information technology professionals in the area who would be seeking homes in a low-maintenance, short-commute environment.
In addition to the years of close observation of the market, Caruthers spent just as long gaining the trust of local residents and of his hand-picked development team. “I grew up in an age where your word was your bond, and that’s all everybody had,” he said. “There are so many ways people can get out of a contract, but I never have figured out how to get out of a handshake.”
With Somerset as the overall developer, others on the development team include Bozzuto for multi-family dwellings, Southern Management Corp. for multi-family dwellings and The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, Toll Brothers for the townhomes and the single-family homes, Corporate Office Properties Trust for offices and Chesapeake Real Estate Group for offices, as well as retail leasing.
Jim Patton, a land development consultant and founder of Patton Consultants in Linthicum, observed that Arundel Preserve has had a chance to evolve into a development with an upscale flair that will attract residents, shoppers and businesspeople from all generations.
The decision to build the boutique hotel at the development’s Town Center rather than a mainstream chain brand hotel reflects the careful thought of the team of developers, said Patton.
“There is definitely a need here for an upscale hotel in contrast to your brands,” he said. “Mike and Neil have evolved Arundel Preserve as a very attractive, totally different concept relative to mixed use.”