Taylor center tenant faces uncertain future

Plans could displace defense operation

October 23, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

A key tenant that enjoys spectacular views of the Severn River and the Naval Academy from the former David Taylor Research Center could be forced to relocate to make way for future development, a county official said yesterday.

Joint Spectrum Center, a Defense Information Systems Agency operation, could leave the former military base, possibly for Fort Meade, to free valuable space for plush executive suites, Anne Arundel County Chief Administrative Officer Jerome W. Klasmeier said.

"That's one option the developer has," said Klasmeier.

The Navy shut down the David Taylor site in 1999. Development consortium Annapolis Partners was selected by county officials last year to turn the 46.5-acre site into a high-tech business park.

Klasmeier also said that a meeting between county and Navy officials scheduled for today was canceled last week. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, he said.

The uncertain future of Joint Spectrum, which works on projects such as guidance systems for "smart" weapons, threatens to stymie redevelopment of the former military base because of the operation's prime riverside location and its powerful federal ties.

Exactly where and when Joint Spectrum could move is unclear. Any move, either to a quiet corner of the former research center or to Fort Meade, would be paid for by Annapolis Partners, according to county and military officials. They said the developer would have to pay for a new building for the center.

"There is no choice," said Army Col. Joseph S. Yavorsky, commander of Joint Spectrum Center, referring to a 1995 law that he said sets requirements for military base reuse and redevelopment. Because of its ties to the military, Joint Spectrum is guaranteed a spot at the David Taylor Research Center, rent free, for up to 50 years, he said.

Klasmeier said that a move by Joint Spectrum and its 150 employees had been discussed by developers, but added that such action could be years away, and might require congressional approval.

He said that Joint Spectrum's long-term lease - and the potential of a costly move - hasn't dimmed developers' hopes for the former military base.

"We haven't seen the diminution of any enthusiasm on the part of Annapolis Partners," he said

Annapolis Partners consists of Maurice B. Tose, president of Annapolis-based TeleCommunication Systems Inc., and Mesirow Financial of Chicago. Mesirow Financial official Ronald K. McDonald did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

A plan adopted by the council earlier this year allows developers to build up to 730,000 square feet of office space and 2,300 parking spaces, at a cost of at least $200 million.

Talks between the Navy and the county have come to a halt recently. Some blamed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for the delay, but others said difficulties such as a disappointing conceptual plan might have played a part.

A concept drawing presented to the county by Annapolis Partners fell short of expectations, said Klasmeier.

"Not all of the things we wanted included in the concept plan were included," he said.

Annapolis Partners could submit a revised concept plan today, said Klasmeier.

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