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Developer of former Fort Ritchie asking for site plan approval

September 08, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

CASCADE -- The developer of the former Fort Ritchie Army base in Cascade is scheduled to meet with the Washington County Planning Commission tonight to ask for site plan approval for two buildings on the property.

The site plan approvals are needed to get the buildings on the county's land records, said William D. Hofmann, senior property and environmental services manager for Corporate Office Properties Trust, a Columbia, Md.-based company that is developing the property.

"These buildings were on an Army base, so none of them were on the county's books," Hofmann said.

After the buildings are on the county's land records, building permits can be granted.

COPT has suggested in the site plan documents that the former PX and commissary buildings be used as data storage centers and office space.

Those usages could change, however, depending on what kind of companies show an interest in the buildings.

"We don't really know what those buildings will be, but we think these usages would be good," Hofmann said. "This way, you're ready when the tenant comes."

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The Planning Commission approved a site plan in December 2007 for 21 buildings in the property's historic district.

Suggested uses for those buildings include a restaurant, credit union, self-storage company, maintenance building and several office buildings.

COPT has signed leases with two tenants: Indus Corp., a Vienna, Va.-based software development company, and Microtech Solutions, an electronic engineering and software design firm owned by a Smithsburg couple.

Hagerstown Community College began offering classes at the former Army base in March.

Hofmann said the grand opening of the property's community center is scheduled for late September.

The Army closed Fort Ritchie in the late 1990s as part of its Base Realignment and Closure Plan.

COPT has projected that 4,500 jobs will come to the former base after the redevelopment, which is expected to take 10 to 15 years.

Plans for the base include 673 residential units and 1.7 million square feet of offices, as well as 20 acres for community use, a history museum and athletic fields.

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