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CASCADE, MD-Corporate Office Properties Trust in Columbia and the locally based PenMar Development Corp. have closed on about 500 acres of the former Fort Ritchie Army Base and plan to roll in the 91-acre balance in spring 2007. The joint venture has paid $5 million, with an adjusted pro rata for the property holdback.

The land purchase is a prelude to the proposed redevelopment of the 591-acre base, which now contains a mix of office space, support buildings, residential units, recreational and wooded areas. COPT wants to build or redevelop 1.7 million sf of office space on the site and 673 units of apartments, duplexes, condominiums, townhomes and single-family units. All told the redevelopment will include 67 acres of historic area, 24 acres of lakes, 20 acres of community use, 79 acres of business development, 135 acres of residential development and 257 acres of woodland area–a plan that is expected to take 10 to 15 years to complete. It also will create 4,500 jobs, according to a company press release. The property is about eight miles west of Route 15 and along Route 550 near the Pennsylvania border.

“COPT is very excited to finally close on Fort Ritchie with the opportunity now to create an economic engine that will result in significant job growth for Washington County, Maryland and Franklin County, PA,” said Randall M. Griffin, president and CEO of Corporate Office Properties Trust in a statement. “In addition, this provides COPT the opportunity to expand a new Greater Washington, DC submarket and add to its government relationships by capturing the demand for major facilities located outside of the DC metro area.”

PenMar Development Corp. was formed in 1997 by the Maryland General Assembly to create a plan to redevelop the former Army base. The Army base closed in 1998 as part of the Federal Base Realignment Act.

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