Ellen Miller, a founding principal of Stonebridge Associates and principal of StonebridgeCarras, directs Stonebridge’s real estate advisory efforts. With her main office in Bethesda, when her company began acquisition of the land in Odenton (a process that extended from 2006 to 2008), she began seeking avenues to get to know Anne Arundel County and the Odenton community.
“Almost everywhere we turned, we heard that the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce was the best vehicle for knowing what’s happening here,” said Miller. “The chamber’s CEO, Claire Louder, was happy to help us learn and become engaged in ways that mattered greatly to us as new developers to the area.”
Before long, Miller and her team were attending “NOW” coalition meetings along with other chamber members, who were also interested in advancing and realizing the growth potential for Odenton as set forth in the Odenton Town Center Plan. “It was clear early on that the West County Chamber and its CEO had earned the respect of community leaders, citizens, elected officials and developers alike,” said Miller. “The NOW group remains the key vehicle for knowing what is underway and having a voice in the process — and, importantly, working collegially with others having similar objectives.”
Other chamber events also have supported Miller’s goals. The chamber’s “Tour and Taste,” an annual bus tour that showcases the new and upcoming growth in West County, attracts a wide range of professionals interested in changes to the market.
Miller is completing her second term serving on the board of the West County Chamber and, in the past several years, she has been a member of the Executive Committee and the chamber treasurer.
Stonebridge’s 55-acre project in Odenton, Academy Yard, served as the site of the chamber’s 50th anniversary celebration. “It was a wonderful and fun event that had an almost magical tinge of serendipity,” said Miller. The land once housed the repair shops of the WB&A Electric Railroad, the largest pre-World War II employer, as well as the headquarters of the National Plastics Products Co., which opened its doors in the early 1940s and brought Odenton out of the Depression. It also became the area’s largest employer.
Academy Yard’s name reflects its history as the yard location for the repair shops of the WB&A. Last year, Stonebridge opened the first phase of the project, Flats 170 at Academy Yard, a 369-unit apartment community with a pool, clubroom, bar and billiards, theater, cyber café, fitness center, dog park and an outdoor fitness trail.
“We are over 95% leased and have been focusing on our next phase, which we hope will include retail uses serving the Odenton area, as well as, perhaps, additional housing given the popularity of Flats 170,” said Miller.
“We continue to be enthusiastic about Odenton given its prime location at the epicenter of cybersecurity and its close proximity to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, both minutes away by taking the train,” she said.