Twin-engine economic boost; Anne Arundel: Tipton Airfield and Arundel Mills, on very different tracks, are clearing major hurdles.


ONE PROJECT is advancing with the speed of a hare; the other has plodded along like a tortoise.

But the regional shopping mall called Arundel Mills and the regional airport called Tipton, both working their way to the finish line, could be major contributors to economic development in Anne Arundel County. Both recently won significant approvals from government agencies regarding environmental concerns.

Arundel Mills, the $250-million shopping complex planned near Route 100 and Baltimore-Washington Parkway, could spin off more than the vast array of retailing that will take place on site.

It could spur other construction nearby as projects of the parent, Arlington, Va.-based Mills Corp., have done elsewhere. Its Sawgrass Mills in south Florida, for example, is ringed by other retailing, office buildings and a hockey arena.

Having won wetlands approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed, Arundel Mills is projected to open in about a year.

A few miles to the southwest, the county is preparing to assume from the Army ownership of Tipton Airfield. In contrast to the breathless mall construction time frame, the Tipton conversion was a long, drawn-out process that included the removal of unexploded ordnance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to remove Tipton from the Superfund list of contaminated sites next week, the county announced yesterday. When the county finally gets the deed to the former Fort Meade airfield, it will have another selling point -- like its impressive shoreline -- to pitch to executives of companies looking to relocate.

The airport should help fulfill more of the obvious commercial potential along Anne Arundel's border with Howard County.

Although careful planning will be needed to avoid a hodgepodge of spinoff development, both of these projects may make a major impact on the local economy.

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