Council restructures $900,000 loan to Savage Mill developers

December 02, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

The Savage Mill shopping complex won another government break last night as the Howard County Council agreed to restructure a $900,000 loan to its developers.

Savage Mill Limited Partnership, which turned the 19th-century, red-brick mill into a shopping center, has not paid any of the principal on the 1991 loan from the state and county.

But company officials, predicting better times ahead, won unanimous support from council members eager to see the project succeed.

"The mill is important not only from an economic development perspective, but from a historic preservation perspective," said Councilwoman Mary C. Lorsung, a west Columbia Democrat.

Jay Winer, general partner of the Savage Mill Limited Partnership, which owns the historic mill near Route 32 and U.S. 1, said the council's decision to approve the loan restructuring makes good business sense.

"The county has worked very closely with us since we launched this project," he said yesterday, before the council meeting. "They understand that the mill's success has been an absolute benefit to the both of us. We can remain an attraction that will make people want to come to Howard County."

Under terms of the original loan agreement, Howard County would have to repay the full amount to the state if the partnership cannot make the loan payments. The loan balance with interest has grown to $1.14 million.

The terms of the new loan restructuring agreement would require the partnership to pay $24,680 quarterly, half of the scheduled $51,084 payments. The loan must be repaid by May 2006.

Councilman Darrel E. Drown, an Ellicott City Republican, said the council approved the loan restructuring despite being wary of voter disapproval.

"We were between a rock and a hard spot with this," Drown said before the vote. "The public shouldn't be put in the position of having to pay off a loan, but then, we probably shouldn't have been in this situation in the first place."

Savage Mill's owners and retailers say they expect it to turn its first profit this year.

Pub Date: 12/02/97

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