Developers change Bainbridge site plan

Number of townhouses reduced by 200

residents to choose fate of 100 acres

April 13, 2003|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

The deteriorating former Bainbridge Naval Training Center will be turned into a $750 million upscale, mixed-use community featuring an office campus, retirement center, hotel, recreation facilities and diversified housing where people can live, play and work, according to the development team looking at the property.

"I'm taken aback by all the [community] resistance to this project," said developer Clark Turner. "This project will set new standards and escalate the level of all future development in Cecil County.

"We are going to be spending a lot of money on amenities to make this really nice," he added. "It will be far above anything else in Cecil County."

He talked about tree-lined boulevards, extensive landscaping, clock towers, water fountains and a fishing pier on the lake.

Turner is president of Clark Turner Cos., a Bel Air-based residential and commercial development company. He is part of a team of developers seeking to redevelop the 1,200-acre Bainbridge property on a hill overlooking Port Deposit and the Susquehanna River.

Other members of the team include: Richard M. Alter, president of Columbia-based Manekin LLC; John Paterakis, a Baltimore bakery owner and commercial developer; and Steven P. Risk, president of Paul Risk Associates Inc. of Quarryville, Pa.

The developers have an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Bainbridge Development Corp. (BDC), a quasi-public agency created by the General Assembly in 1999 to oversee development of the Bainbridge site.

Turner, Alter and Risk met Monday evening with about 250 Port Deposit-area residents at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in town to offer details on their development plans for the Navy boot camp that closed in 1976.

The developers also made a similar presentation to the Cecil County commissioners the next morning.

The proposal has angered community residents who have turned out in large numbers at BDC meetings to express their concerns about the impact of the Bainbridge development on schools, roads and their property taxes.

Turner said the group has taken steps to address residents' concerns, including reducing the number of townhouses on the property.

He said the acreage set aside for townhouses has been trimmed to 45 from the 75 acres in an earlier plan. That would eliminate the construction of about 200 townhouses.

More open space

"We're trying to address the concerns of residents," said Turner. "We have increased the open space by 50 acres. We have set aside more acres for community use, a library, a school and a veterans' cemetery."

Turner said the developers have turned 100 acres over to the BDC and said: "You tell us what to put there based on your input from residents."

During their presentations to residents and the county commissioners, the developers said they favored office development on 200 acres designated for an employment center. Alter said the county has more than 1,800 acres where it can locate warehouses and other industrial development.

They acknowledged that they would be taking a risk developing office space but said such an approach had proven successful in Columbia and Frederick.

The office campus is expected to generate 7,000 jobs.

No conference center

"We will have a 300-plus-room hotel," Alter told residents during the meeting. But there would be no conference center. "They are too risky," he said, noting that the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort near Cumberland cost the state $25 million and is not making money.

Their plan calls for 1,400 single-family homes and 600 multifamily homes. They said that 400 of the 2,000 homes would be "age-targeted," meaning that they would be sold to people older than age 55 who normally pay more in taxes than they require in government services.

Approximately 50 acres of the Tome School site would be transformed into a continuous-care retirement community for seniors. It would be developed by Paul Risk & Associates and would be patterned after the company's Willow Valley retirement center near Lancaster, Pa.

Risk said the Memorial Hall building would serve as the "social gathering center, activity hub and cultural center. There will be a library and the auditorium will be used for the performing arts. Plays and music will be brought in."

Plans call for parks, hiking and biking trails, ball fields and improvements to the existing lake to allow for fishing and the launch of canoes and rowboats. Land would be set aside for a community college and possibly for a museum.

Breakdown of land

Under the group's proposal, 31 percent of the land would be open space, 26 percent would be taken up by the office space and employment center and 29 percent will be used for housing.

Community use, including land for schools and a library, would account for 6 percent of the acreage. Four percent would be taken up by the continuous-care retirement center and 4 percent would be used for roads.

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