A sketch of the proposed Westphalia Center in Upper Marlboro (Courtesy of Prince George's County Planning Department)
A sketch of the proposed Westphalia Center in Upper Marlboro (Courtesy of Prince George's County Planning Department)

The Prince George’s County Planning Commission will review this week a proposed merchandise logistics center slated to stretch 4 million square feet with nearly 1,800 employees and operate as a daily, 24-hour business.

The detailed site plan, labeled Westphalia Center, would open a five-story building in Upper Marlboro along Melwood Road, just north of Woodyard Road and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The applicant, Duke Partnership Limited Corp. of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, is also registered as Indianapolis-based Duke Realty, with Amazon as one of its major tenants.

“The proposed major employer will enhance the economic status of the county and provide desirable employment, surrounded by living and entertainment opportunities for its citizens,” according to a county planning staff report. “The overall town center plan takes full advantage of the development potential of the site, allowing for both public and private development, as well as a mix of various uses that create a viable community.”

Although residences are nearby, the project, nicknamed “Snapper,” doesn’t request any residential development on the currently vacant 78-acre tract.

The land was rezoned more than 10 years ago, undergoing three different variations en route to its current mixed-use, transportation-oriented incarnation.

District Council, which consists of county council members that review land use and zoning matters as another governing body, decided this year to add the definition of a merchandise logistics center and amend definition of regional urban community in the zoning ordinance.

According to the ordinance, a merchandise logistics center would be a business “where goods or products are received and may be sorted, packed and stored for the purpose of distribution to parcel carriers or delivery directly to a consumer.”

Councilman Mel Franklin (D-At-Large) of Upper Marlboro, who promotes job prospects as a major boost for the county, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Some residents aren’t pleased with the location to build a giant warehouse near residences in the Westphalia neighborhood. Douglas E. Edwards, former president of the Coalition of Central Prince George’s County Community Organizations, said the Landover Mall site would serve as a better location for traffic to flow on and off the Beltway.

“The land at Westphalia was originally proposed for commercial development. It certainly wasn’t for a warehouse,” Edwards said. “Nobody has contacted the community and civic association. It sounds like a done deal.”

The planning staff recommends approval with several conditions, including:

• Show all current and proposed utilities in the tree conservation plan.
• Add more variation in color or architectural elements on the elevations and roof line.
• Provide shuttle bus service for at least 40 passengers between 6-8 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. seven days a week.

In terms of parking, planning staff recommends the applicant’s request for nearly 1,800 spaces based on the number of employees and visitors. One of the planning staff’s conditions urge the applicant to revise the site plan to designate 270 parking spaces, or 15 percent of spaces approved for carpool parking.

The property would also have 64 loading docks and an additional 203 truck and trailer parking spaces. A traditional warehouse usually requires about 1,100 parking spaces.

“It is the conclusion of staff that overall parking needs created by this proposed development will be adequately met,” the staff report said.

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