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Developers eye former Army base

January 10, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A Baltimore corporation hopes to take charge of development at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base and create more than 3,600 jobs, a technology park, education and training center and health-care facilities.

"I'm interested in developing it because I see the opportunity to rebuild the community," Andrew Klopman, president of Strategic Alliance Group Inc., said in a phone interview Friday. "It's a win-win for everyone."

The corporation plans to create 3,674 jobs at the approximately 600-acre base, according to Strategic Alliance Group's nearly 100-page plan.

The Army shut down the base in Cascade in 1998, resulting in the loss of about 2,000 jobs. The state created PenMar Development Corp. to redevelop the base.

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PenMar would have to convey the base's property to Strategic Alliance Group in order for the group to become the base's master developer.

PenMar, however, has been negotiating exclusively with North Bethesda, Md.-based Lerner Enterprises, which also is interested in leading the base's redevelopment.

Lerner will attend PenMar's board of directors meeting Monday at 7:30 a.m. at the former base to discuss its redevelopment goals.

Klopman said Strategic Alliance Group has not yet negotiated with PenMar because of PenMar's exclusive agreement to hold talks with Lerner.

PenMar Executive Director Richard Rook, who acts as an agency spokesman, did not return two phone calls Friday.

Klopman said Strategic Alliance's plan would provide long-term economic growth in Washington County.

After 20 years, the plan would generate $216 million in economic development and $1.73 million a year in taxes, the plan states.

Included is the plan are:

n A 10,000-square-foot solar energy factory with a possible expansion to 20,000 square feet.

n High-tech, high-paying jobs.

n A $7.7 million, 120-bed skilled nursing facility

n Veterans affairs education and training.

n Women's issues education and training.

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy also would offer training programs focusing on refugees of religious persecution, trafficked persons and senior citizens.

The Strategic Alliance hopes to have several other partners, including the University of Maryland's Office of Technology Commercialization, the Technology Advancement Program and Continuing Education as well as several state agencies, according to the plan.

Klopman said Strategic Alliance Group was formed specifically for the purpose of redeveloping Fort Ritchie.

The corporation consists of professionals with experience in real estate development, property management, fiscal policies, health care, law and business management, according to the plan.

"It's a good, solid plan," Klopman said. "It'll work."

"We'll be looking forward to working with everyone," Klopman said.

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