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50-Year-Old Maryland House Gets Makeover

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MELODY SIMMONS
The Daily Record

ABERDEEN, Md. (AP) — Nearly five decades old, the Maryland House is set to reopen on the state’s main superhighway this month as a new, ultra-modern rest stop.

The pit stop, gas station and eatery on Interstate 95 in Aberdeen that has greeted weary travelers since Lyndon B. Johnson occupied the White House was closed in September 2012 and razed. It has been rebuilt over the past 18 months in a $30 million redevelopment.

In its new incarnation, a pair of skylight-laden, glass-and-red-brick, pitched-roof buildings designed by Baltimore architects Ayers Saint Gross have risen on the wide median separating the northbound and southbound lanes of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.

The Maryland Transportation Authority, which oversees the rest stop, signed a 35-year public-private concessionaire agreement in 2012 with Miami-based Areas USA Inc. for $56 million that also includes redevelopment of the Chesapeake House in Cecil County near the Maryland-Delaware line.

Under the agreement, Areas USA funded the entire cost of the redevelopment and will operate and maintain the facility, which in the past has attracted about 2.8 million visitors annually. In return, the operator will receive leasing fees from vendors, plus other profits from the site.

The state will receive an anticipated $400 million in revenues as part of that agreement, said Rebecca L. Freeberger, a spokeswoman for the transportation authority.

“The state will retain ownership and oversight of the development,” Freeberger said.

The $26 million renovation and redevelopment at the Chesapeake House is expected to be completed in September 2014. Unlike the Maryland House, the Chesapeake House will not close during the project.

Freeberger said the new Maryland House is set to open by mid-January. It will present several new vendors: a Phillips Seafood Express, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Carvel Ice Cream. A new Sunoco gas station will also open there.

Clark Construction is the general contractor.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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