The new project will help pull Laurel away from that impression, and "a rising tide kind of raises all ships," Gibbons said.

While waiting on the Greenberg Gibbons' news, developers for multiple other projects in or near the city have also been spending time making sure they have covered all their bases in the sometimes cumbersome zoning processes of local jurisdictions, officials said.

According to Marsha McLaughlin, Howard County's director of planning and zoning, such is the case with the Laurel Park Station project, near the Laurel Park race track.

The developer, Stronarch Group, wants to take advantage of the currently underutilized Laurel Park MARC station by building a transit-oriented development complete with retail, hotel and residential space, and is currently trying to take care of pending issues — like acquiring a sewer pump station for the project — so it can hit the ground running when the market opens up, McLaughlin said.

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"You can't get financing until you can convince everybody that it's a go," McLaughlin said.

A regional approach

Regional planners are also trying to ensure they are preparing for new development in the best way, McLaughlin and others said.

For instance, along with the Laurel Park Station project in Howard, there are also two other projects being planned in the immediate vicinity of Laurel Park race track, including one being considered for property off Brock Bridge Road in Anne Arundel County and another being pitched in the city that would transform the current parking lot at the Laurel MARC station on Main Street into a mixed-use development, Brendle said.

In part because the impacts of so much development in such a small area will be more regional than local, city officials are currently working with Anne Arundel and Howard officials to determine what their role should be in either guiding or requiring enhancements to the local transportation infrastructure.

"It's no longer about just counties. It's about the corridor," said Brendle, referring to Route 1.

The city is also planning for the future, he said, by requiring potential developers to work with the city to build LEED-certified, environmentally friendly buildings and offer amenities, like wireless Internet, that are attractive to young professionals.

Moe said that while development will be good for Laurel, it can also present challenges. He's looking to avoid those challenges on the front end by taking a careful, regionally minded approach, he said.

"We not only want to serve the residents of Laurel and the businesses of Laurel, but we also want to serve the surrounding areas, and have people come in and spend money," he said. "But we don't want gridlock. We don't want our schools overcrowded."

As the broader outlook for the city takes shape in the next few months, questions on those sorts of impacts will be at the top of his mind as he talks with developers and other regional partners, Moe said.

"We're doing those things," Moe said. "We've continued to be a player at the table."