The groundbreaking for the redevelopment of the Bainbridge Naval Training Center could come within 18 months, said Richard Alter as he signed an agreement worked out between a group of Maryland developers and the Bainbridge Development Corp.
Alter is president of Manekin LLC in Columbia. Other members of the development team formally called MTPM LLC, include Clark Turner, president of Bel Air-based Clark Turner Cos.; and John Paterakis, a commercial developer in Baltimore.
The Bainbridge Development Corp. is the quasi-public agency created by the General Assembly in 1999 to oversee the development of Bainbridge, a 1,200-acre property on a hill overlooking Port Deposit and the Susquehanna River.
"This is a special day," Alter said during the signing ceremony Wednesday night.
The company has proposed a mixed-use project for the former Navy boot camp that closed in 1976. It will include housing and commercial development.
Bainbridge is considered one of the prime development sites along the Interstate 95 corridor from New York to Washington. State officials said it would be one of the largest development projects in Maryland.
The signing marked the end of more than a year of contested negotiations during which some residents of Port Deposit opposed the so-called Manekin team's proposal for the property.
Concerns were expressed about the impact of so many houses on roads in the region and on the public schools.
The negotiations also featured the resignations of two BDC board members in protest of the way things were handled.
The developers signed the contract nine weeks after they walked away in a huff, saying they were no longer interested in Bainbridge. They were lured back into the project by BDC directors who said their project was the best for Bainbridge.
Cynthia Rossetti, who cast the lone BDC vote against against the awarding of the contract, said that while there were parts of the agreement she didn't like, the pact was much improved over an earlier proposal.
She said the land at Bainbridge would likely be worth considerably more in 15 to 20 years than the developers were paying for the property.
The agreement limits the number of houses to 1,250 and prohibits gambling with the exception of occasional charity, non-profit, fund-raisers.
Other provisions of the contract include:
The housing limit does not count in the potential development of the Tome School into a continuing-care retirement community or any age-restricted housing that would be limited to seniors without students in public schools.
Trucking and warehouse facilities are prohibited from the commercial/industrial portion of the development.
The BDC will hold a 20 percent interest in the project.
The developers will seek to employ local construction workers and use local products and services when it's practicable.
The developers will develop a water and sewerage system for Bainbridge and Port Deposit and serve as the guarantor on any bond issue until the system is financially self-sufficient.
The developer will pay $5,000 for reach residential development lot and $8,000 an acre for lands in the industrial portion of Bainbridge. It will pay $10,000 an acre for property in the 65 acres designated as flex space. The flex space is to be used for any new market that might develop.
If no commercial development has taken place by the end of the fifth year, the developers will be required to build a 25,000-square-foot "spec" office research building. The building would be leased by businesses moving into Bainbridge.
Paul Gilbert, a director of the BDC and the Cecil County economic development director, said the BDC received 134 inquiries about the development of Bainbridge over the past four years and each one was evaluated.
He said the proposal from the Manekin team "was as close to the optimal plan as we can get."
Gilbert said the development would be an economic boon to the entire county.