By DON AINES
9:43 PM EST, January 8, 2013
The PenMar Development Corp. plans to hire a real estate consulting firm in the near future and have a strategic redevelopment plan later this year, Executive Director Dori Nipps told the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
The board held an evening meeting at the Fort Ritchie Community Center on Tuesday and Nipps told the commissioners that PenMar will meet with a consultant later this month.
“We would really like to have a plan to work from in April or May,” Nipps said after the meeting.
In July, the 600-acre former army base was returned to PenMar by Corporate Office Properties Trust, or COPT, which paid $5 million for the property in 2006 and was to have paid $4 million more by 2016.
COPT’s Plans to redevelop the base, closed in 1998 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, were stalled by a lawsuit by the owners of two properties near the base and a faltering economy.
When COPT turned the property over to PenMar, the redevelopment corporation got half of the $4 million it was owed, along with the land, Nipps said. That and rents and leases on residential and commercial properties on the site are what make up the budget for maintenance and operations, she said.
Nipps told the commissioners that the PenMar board of directors is working to determine what type of development is appropriate for the fort. That includes whether it is best to sell it as one property or divide it into parcels, she said after the meeting.
“We intend to get it back into private hands, so we can get it back on the tax rolls,” Nipps said.
In the months since the property was returned to PenMar, crews have been doing basic landscaping, Nipps said. Several roofs have been, or are scheduled for, repairs she said.
“It was looking pretty sad when we took over,” Nipps told the commissioners.
The former officers’ club, now called Lakeside Hall, closed in February 2012, but just reopened this month as an events and banquet facility, Nipps said. Businesses have also approached PenMar about leasing some of the base’s warehouse, office, storage and residential properties, she said.
PenMar currently employs three full-time and two part-time maintenance personnel and a full-time property manager, Nipps said.
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