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A Park Not For Play | By Allison Williams


For now, the intersection of Santa Fe Drive and the All-American Freeway isn’t much to look at. But past the scrub pines and dirt, developers and public officials see a project of unprecedented economic impact in Fayetteville. Some even place the number at $1 billion. Doug Peters, president and CEO of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, estimates that when the Military Business Park is complete, this 255-acre tract of land will include 1.5 million square feet of office space, 4,000 workers and a payroll up to $200 million. Circulate that money through the community, Peters says, and it blossoms to $1.5 billion. Though a single high-rise has yet to go up, Peters said the Chamber already hosts an average of anywhere from five to 11 clients a week, showing them office space all over the county, including the land soon to become the Military Business Park. “We are not able to get it built quickly enough,” he said. The project is a private-public venture between the property owners, Dohn Broadwell, and his sister-inlaw, Nancy, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has awarded grants for the park’s basic infrastructure. The Broadwell family will develop the park, while the Chamber is responsible for marketing. At a groundbreaking last fall, several politicians called the park a turning point for Cumberland County. Congressman Bob Etheridge said it signaled a better day for all of southeastern North Carolina and likened the project to the inception of Research Triangle Park, the largest research park in the country. “Twenty or 30 years from now,” he said, “people are going to look back on this event and see that it was as significant as the turning of spades for the Research Triangle Park almost 60 years ago.” The project is poised to take advantage of the changes that BRAC – Base Realignment and Closure – is bringing to Fort Bragg. By 2011, two major Army commands plan to relocate to Bragg, bringing with them thousands of additional soldiers, family members and civilian Department of Defense workers. That’s not to mention the defense contractors that are expected. The Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce maintains a list of at least 70 military contractors already doing business here, but that does not include the hundreds of other businesses supplying everything from plumbing to paint. Using public records to track businesses receiving contracts, a Web site, governmentcontractswon.com, lists contracts by county. From 2000 to 2008, the site estimates that Cumberland County businesses have received $96 million in contracts, including $19 million last year alone. Peters says it stands to reason that other contractors will want to be close to Fort Bragg and the new Forces Command, which oversees the training and deployment of most combat units based in the United States. There, at the corner of Santa Fe Drive and the All-American Freeway, businesses will have access to Bragg and, it is expected, Interstate 295. Local leaders are hopeful that the highway will soon be extended about eight miles from Ramsey Street to the All- American. “This gives us an attraction to take out into the world,” Peters said. “We will have that quality space right here, true world-class space.” CV