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October 06, 2006

The issue: The federal government closed the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade in 1998. Since then, PenMar Development Corp. has been trying to redevelop the approximately 600-acre property and create jobs, but arguments and legal battles have stood in the way. A former tenant, Role Models America, sued the U.S. government and won a motion for an injunction in 2003 that barred the Army from transferring the base to PenMar.

What happened: Federal courts over the last two weeks removed obstacles blocking the sale, including lifting the injunction. On Thursday, the Army transferred the property to PenMar, which promptly sold the base to Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), a Columbia, Md., company that plans to develop 1.7 million square feet of office space on the site and build 673 housing units.

What's next: COPT's development plan must receive Washington County planning approval, and the developer must resolve any potential school capacity issues before residential construction may begin.

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