Herald-Mail news article August 8, 2015
August 13, 2015
PenMar official says Fort Ritchie for sale at $10M Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 8:00 pm Fort Ritchie A former U.S. Army base in the northeast corner of Washington County is for sale for the negotiable asking price of about $10 million, according to an official with PenMar Development Corp. CASCADE, Md. — A former U.S. Army base in the northeast corner of Washington County is for sale for the negotiable asking price of about $10 million, according to an official with PenMar Development Corp. PenMar Executive Director Dori Nipps said the state-designated redevelopment authority for the 600-acre property is taking a new route for marketing the former Fort Ritchie base that closed in 1998. "Our purpose is to go out of business," Nipps said Wednesday. "It is not for us to develop the property ourselves. The mission of Pen Mar is to put the property back on tax rolls and to try to get some jobs back, and so that's what we're trying to do by selling the entire property and not developing it ourselves. That's not our purpose." The 18-member PenMar board of directors is currently interviewing private real-estate brokers who will lead marketing efforts and find buyers or developers who could then create a master plan for redevelopment and future uses. The plan is a major shift from about two years ago when PenMar leadership commissioned a study that determined the public agency needed to function more like a real-estate development firm in its marketing of the property. In the spring of 2014, a project manager was hired to begin developing a master plan for redevelopment, but the plan didn't work out and ended when the project manager left later that year, Nipps said. "We found that way of going about it was not working," she said. "... We hope now we can go ahead and have a broker who will market the property nationally and internationally, and see what comes from that." Officials with the Maryland Governor's Office of Community Initiatives visited the former base off MacAfee Hill Road on Wednesday, offering to assist in identifying potential suitors that may wish to purchase the property. A commercial developer had bought the property in the 2000s with plans to redevelop the land, but later backed away from the project and sold it back to PenMar in 2011 for about $9 million. Nipps said the entire property is valued at about $17 million, according to state assessments, although the PenMar board likely would not seek such a steep selling price. Additional staging work to get the property ready for reuse is ongoing, with state grant funding being used for sewer line improvements this summer, along with two new projects that were endorsed by county officials this week. PenMar has applied for state grants through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to help pay for the demolition of Building 303, a derelict structure along Barrick Avenue in the base's historic area, and to relocate a sewer line that runs through the property and connects to a Maryland National Guard location off Ritchie Road. Consisting of 300 wooded acres, 300 acres of developable open land with 138 buildings and two large lakes, the property has been eyed for residential, retail and other commercial uses. Along with daily traffic to and from the Fort Ritchie Community Center, about 300 people live in residential units managed by PenMar on the property.