University Town Center Gets High-Placed Help

Photo by Flickr user dan reed!

Photo by Flickr user dan reed!

Congress just gave a pretty big boost to the University Town Center.

The retail, office and residential complex near the Prince George’s Plaza just signed a 15-year lease with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for $42 million.

The CDC’s space will shrink by about 40 percent from its current 178,000 square feet at University Town Center, but the management avoided losing the contract to competitors thanks to a provision inserted by a U.S. Senate committee.

As the Washington Business Journal reported last April, the CDC had to search within Prince George’s County, an unusual limitation:

Congress typically specifies a general region for a search, such as suburban Maryland, rather than asking for a location in a particular county.

Aside from Metro IV, there are just four other buildings with 104,000 square feet of vacant space or more in Prince George’s, according to CoStar Group Inc.

The Prince George’s restriction isn’t ironclad, however, and the Senate resolution allows the GSA and CDC to select space outside of Prince George’s if they determine the CDC’s needs can’t be met in the county and submit an explanation to the committee before signing a lease in another county.

There are no indications of exactly how the provision came about, but Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland is on the Senate committee, so that is probably a safe bet.

Though the Senate no longer allows earmarks, this kind of provision is the next closest thing: You might call it a “nearmark.”

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