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Tanger Outlet offers bid for community college

August 13, 2000

Tanger Outlet offers bid for community college



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


Declaring "we are the front door of Martinsburg," the chairman and CEO of Tanger Outlet Center said last week he has the desire and space to house the Technical and Community College at Shepherd College.

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But Stanley Tanger said he believes he is being shut out of the process for selecting a new site for the community college. College officials have decided they want to relocate the college from Shepherdstown to the empty Blue Ridge Outlet Center in Martinsburg, although they have stressed any final decision must be made by the state.

After he couldn't get hold of college President David Dunlop or Provost Pete Checkovich over a week ago, Tanger said he talked to college legal counsel Alan Perdue, he said. Perdue told him to submit a proposal for his property near I-81 and King Street. An hour later, Tanger got a call from the Governor's office telling him not to bother, he said.

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"The woman I talked to said they'd already decided on the Blue Ridge," Tanger said. "She said there was no need to give Shepherd College a proposal."

The woman he talked to was Barbara Paxton, administrative assistant to Gov. Cecil Underwood's chief of staff. She said she did not initiate a call to Tanger. But when he called her, she checked and told him that "the site selection had been made. It's a dead issue."

Perdue insisted the site selection is far from a dead issue.

"I encouraged him to submit a proposal," Perdue said. "I told him no final decision or final commitment yet. I still haven't seen any proposal."

Perdue said any decision must be approved by the state Interim Governing Board that oversees higher education. It probably will have to be reviewed by the state Higher Education Policy Commission. And the state Department of Administration must approve all leases, he said.

"The governor's office obviously has been behind the Blue Ridge," Perdue said." But if we came to their people with another idea, I'm sure they'd listen."

"I'm not saying we should be given this, but we should at least be considered," said Tanger.

His company has 30 outlet centers in 23 states and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, he said.

"We do have a good position. We have a good location, lots of parking, close to shopping and fast food, all the things a college would want. We're right next to the freeway. And our facility is much better than the Blue Ridge."

He echoed a theme voiced by others since the July 19 announcement of the plan to move - a compete analysis of all options should be done.

"In fairness to all taxpayers, we should do a cost analysis of all the locations," he said. "If they just give me a stroke and give it to the Blue Ridge anyway, well at least somebody looked at us."

Tanger said his outlet stores fled to Hagerstown, the same situation as the Blue Ridge. He has 50,000 square feet available, he said.

Perdue said the college considered the "whole general area around the mall" which includes Tanger Outlet Center. He said Tanger doesn't have 50,000 square feet available now because some stores are still located there.

And while he didn't rule out Tanger, he said a basic decision has been made.

"Our academic and administrative people think downtown would be the best place for this," he said. "But we would like to see his proposal so we could evaluate it. "

Tanger said he didn't submit it because he was told it was futile. He will do it now, he said. And he will send it to the Interim Governing Board for its consideration, he added.

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