Developer interested in Ritchie site

July 29, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

CASCADE - A Bethesda, Md.-based developer has expressed interest in doing work at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base, but details are being kept under wraps, a government spokeswoman said Monday.

The company, Lerner Enterprises, met with U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., after asking for a meeting to talk about the property near Cascade, a Bartlett spokeswoman said Monday.

Bartlett's office would not reveal additional details about the company's interest in the land being redeveloped by the PenMar Development Corp., spokeswoman Lisa Wright said.


PenMar "is in discussions with a nationally known developer" but no agreements have been made, PenMar Executive Director Richard Rook said Monday.

Rook said he could not say more due to a confidentiality clause. He would not confirm the company is Lerner.

The PenMar Development Corp. was created by the state of Maryland in May 1997 to assist with the redevelopment of the base when it closed in October 1998.

Calls to Lerner officials were not returned Monday.

At its Internet site, Lerner Enterprises describes itself this way in a "corporate profile" page: "Balancing vision and innovation with experience and integrity, Lerner Enterprises has become a respected leader in Washington area development ...

"Well known for its involvement in such high-profile properties as White Flint, Tysons II, White Flint North, Washington Square, Dulles Town Center and Tysons Corner Center, Lerner Enterprises develops and their affiliate Lerner Corporation leases and manages large scale office buildings, office and business parks, malls and shopping centers, hotels, residential communities, mixed-use facilities and land development projects.

"More than 20 million square feet of commercial and retail space, as well as more than 22,000 private homes and 6,000 apartment homes, comprise an impressive portfolio, a portfolio which illustrates the diverse capabilities of Lerner Enterprises to plan, develop, and construct well-designed and high-quality properties to their greatest potential," the site says.

Fort Ritchie is about three miles from Site R, an underground military command center in southcentral Pennsylvania.

Redevelopment progress has been hampered by legal obstacles. Currently, the biggest impediment is a federal court order halting the transfer of land from the Army to PenMar because a legal notice was flawed.

Rook said PenMar is waiting for clearance from the Army to readvertise the property.

Under legislation co-sponsored in May, U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, both D-Md., co-sponsored a bill to speed up the transfer of land at the fort so the International Masonry Institute could expand its training program there. Of the 33 acres that would be transferred, the institute would get about 26, Rook said.

The International Masonry Institute, which is based in Annapolis, has leased land at Fort Ritchie for several years. It runs a masonry job program there.

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