Detrick to get hotel, shops

The Baltimore Sun

A Pittsburgh-based developer will build a hotel and conference center, offices and shops at Fort Detrick in Frederick County under an arrangement in which the U.S. Army donates 24 acres at the base in return for future development services.

Detrick Properties LLC, a joint venture of Dick Corp. of Pittsburgh and Hunt Development Group, said yesterday that the Army selected it for the project through an agreement known as an "enhanced-use lease."

The developers would be given the land to build the hotel and conference center and an undetermined amount of Class A office, technology and research space and shops, which the developer would lease to either government or private-sector tenants.

The developer would then owe Fort Detrick in-kind development services on a future project, based on the value of the land, said Eileen Mitchell, civilian deputy garrison commander of the 800-acre installation, which houses laboratories for biomedical research and development.

Mitchell said the project would give Fort Detrick scientists and researchers an on-site location for conferences and meetings.

The hotel, conference center and offices would be built on 20 acres at the northeast corner of the base near Frederick Community College. The developer would also build shops and restaurants on another four acres in a central location accessible to base employees, she said.

"We have a lot of people at Fort Detrick who need to meet and talk to scientists and engineers and have conferences, and they have to go someplace else for these conferences," Mitchell said. With the new center, "we can bring all these people together. This will help us with collaboration."

The Army has been relying on such enhanced-use lease deals as a way to spur private development of unused government-owned land. In November, the Army chose Trammell Crow Co. of Dallas to build a $700 million office and retail project on 540 acres at Fort Meade in exchange for the developer building two 18-hole golf courses.

The Fort Detrick project is being launched at a time of expansion for the base, some of it spurred by the federal base realignment that is expected to bring tens of thousands of jobs to Maryland.

Two labs, one for the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, and one for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, are under construction.

A third lab, to be started this summer, will be used by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, which is already housed on the base.

Fort Detrick was included in military construction funding approved Thursday by a Senate panel as part of the base realignment program.

The size of the conference center project and the types of tenants will be determined by the developer after a more extensive market analysis and community meetings, Mitchell said.

She said the Army hopes to have a business plan and lease with the developer by the end of the year.

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