The West County suburb of Odenton has become a burgeoning residential real estate market in recent years, with hundreds of apartments and a notable amount of office space coming online. The additions encompass various projects that have been discussed for years and are finally at least under construction.

Somewhat lost in the buzz, however, is how Odenton, via that growth and its proximity to Fort Meade, has become a mini-medical hub.

What started with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians establishing a small primary care practice in the 40,000-square-foot Winmark 2 Building on Annapolis Road (behind McDonald’s and the Dairy Queen) in 1993 became a more ambitious endeavor.

Over the years, Hopkins added services and now has the master lease for all of Winmark 2. More recently, the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute expanded into Odenton, and now leases an entire floor, 10,000 square feet, in Winmark 1.

In mid-2012, just west on Annapolis Road, the Patient First emergency medical care center opened, followed at the end of that year by the Odenton Medical Pavilion, a 60,000-square-foot joint effort of Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Anne Arundel Health System (AAHS), located by the traffic circle on Sappington Station Road.

As various agencies at Fort Meade continue to add jobs and adjacent Odenton grows, it looks like more medical services could be forthcoming.

Growth By the Post

Hopkins’ history serving the military and the Odenton community started with the primary care office and “grew from there,” said Beth Plavner, director of development and planning for Johns Hopkins Medical Management Corp. (JHMMC). “We, and AAHS, have vested interests there, and the pavilion has become a very successful joint project.”

At its core, the growth of the submarket is about convenience.

“There really isn’t anything else available in that growing neighborhood, aside from Baltimore Washington Medical Center, which is in Glen Burnie,” Plavner said, noting that Kimbrough Army Hospital has downsized over the years.

After JHMMC conducted a survey two years ago among local residents, it became clear that the suburb needed more services. “At that point,” said Gill Wylie, president of JHMMC, “we completed the leasing of the new 60,000-square-foot building, while the original 40,000-square-foot building was fully leased, as well.”

But the full occupancy of the two Winmark buildings was only part of the news. Also debuting in Odenton was Patient First, which offers urgent and primary care, and hosts more than 100 patients per day; and Odenton Medical Pavilion, where Hopkins and AAHS offer various programs, such as radiology, orthopedics, oncology, urology and rehabilitation, pediatrics, internal and family medicine, plus gastrology and cardiology.

“All told,” said Wylie, “we now have comprehensive offerings that fill the needs of West County.”

Reaching Out

But that’s not all. A couple of years earlier at the Winmark complex, Hopkins and landlord A.J. Properties had found the need for the offerings of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which specializes in treating autism; it’s a separate business, “though there is much interaction,” said Wylie.

Kennedy Krieger started pilot programs in Odenton, as well as in Columbia, in 2010, opening offices in Winmark I and in Patuxent Woods Office Park in Columbia. “So we’re on both sides of Fort Meade,” said Dr. Michael Cataldo, senior vice president of the institute. “We serve two populations: active military families, and the patients who live outside Baltimore City or County but may have found the trip from the Corridor a barrier.”

The Odenton and Columbia offices focus on behavioral psychology, neuropsychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, concussion treatment and early intervention services for autism.

“We specialize in autism, but treat other issues, including ADHD,” said Cataldo. “The bottom line is that, as care has changed during the past couple of decades, it’s become more important to focus on families, hence our expansion out of Baltimore to be more convenient for our patients.”

Another reason that Fort Meade and its surrounds are so important to Kennedy Kreiger is that it’s one of two assignments in the country (the other is in Nebraska) where the military assigns families with children who have special needs — due not only to the presence of the institute, but also because the region’s richness of resources.

That approach has certainly been paying off. Since 2010, Cataldo said the number of patients Kennedy Krieger has served along the Route 32 Corridor has increased annually by 40%; it was about a year ago that the institute expanded from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet, moving to Winmark 2 in the process (Kennedy Krieger also still occupies the 10,000 square feet in Winmark 1 that is dedicated to early invention services for autistic children).

“All told, we’ve experienced 300% growth in Odenton,” he said, noting that the institute treats about 3,500 children between Odenton and Columbia annually. “Since we tried to target services to military families in 2011, we have gone from 80 to 1,000 families per year.”

What’s Next?

With such encouraging results, Plavner said thoughts of more expansion are being discussed.

“We are contemplating offering other services that the community might need, like ambulatory surgery and wellness programs. They could go in a third Winmark building,” she said.

The growth of the local medical campus is just another reason for people moving to the area to consider Odenton. “Hopkins investment in the community reflected the continuing growth of our area and of Fort Meade,” said Claire Louder, president and CEO of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a vote of confidence in the long-time plans that are finally becoming the Odenton Town Center.”

“What Hopkins did,” said Stuart Title, vice president of A.J. Properties, “was established health care as an anchor of commercial growth in Odenton Town Center. It gave it a significant commercial anchor that attracts residential and commercial growth.”

Now, Title and Louder are hoping that the anchor will create demand for more planned growth.

“We need more restaurants and service retail, too, but the medical expansion has really accentuated the community and met its needs,” said Title. “People considering living here are concerned about medical care, as well as work and recreation, and this takes care of that category of concern.”