By David McClatchy, MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services

I have found that, in some cases, things are not always what they seem to be on the surface which, in the world of commercial real estate, often translates to an amazing opportunity.

That situation perfectly describes a five-acre tract of land situated in the Odenton Town Center of Anne Arundel County, nestled within a well-leased retail corridor that services the Odenton community. Based on this location fronting Annapolis Road with typical retail metrics, it was generally assumed by most brokerage professionals that this site was for retail. The problem was because of the existing commissary at Ft. George Meade, which presented fierce competition given they could offer a wide range of below-market priced goods.  

However, I saw the site differently and recently matched it with a development group that specializes in workforce housing. Anne Arundel County officials have been largely unreceptive to new residential development proposals for the past several of years, but workforce housing is viewed in a far different and positive light. There remains a continuing need to provide quality housing for teachers, police officers and other public service workers who earn wages that cannot keep pace with the rising cost of housing. Further, we got lucky with Town Center zoning and no school APF issues. These forces collided and resulted in a bidding war for the site.

The buyer is an out-of-town niche affordable housing development group with a regional office in Columbia. Work is set to begin this fall on a new workforce two-building, surface-parked development, comprising approximately 150 rental units. This will allow the site to reach its full potential, fulfill a pressing need in Anne Arundel County and provide an important use that is traditionally underserved.

Delivery of the first units is scheduled for late 2023.