The groundbreaking for the first building in the redevelopment of Bainbridge Naval Training Center could be held early next year.
Paul Gilbert, Cecil County economic development director, will present a proposal to county commissioners Tuesday to allow the county to borrow from a state low-interest loan program to construct a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot structure at the former Navy boot camp.
"My goal is for the grading of the property to begin the first of next year," said Harland R. Graef, chairman of the Bainbridge Development Corp., which was established by the General Assembly in 1999 to oversee the development of Bainbridge.
Graef said the new building would be a small start but could be a "catalyst to get things going" at Bainbridge.
Bainbridge, on 1,200 acres on a hill overlooking Port Deposit and the Susquehanna River, is considered one of the prime development sites along Interstate 95 between New York and Washington.
Vernon Thompson, executive director of the BDC, said the loan program "may get us a building a year sooner than previously expected."
"When we have a building to market," he said, "we can get the word out to the economic development pros and brokers throughout the region."
Thompson said the funds would come from the state's First Maryland plan, which makes money available at below-market lending rates to counties that have an unemployment rate higher than the state average.
Gilbert, who is also a BDC director, said the BDC will ask the county to borrow up to $2.5 million from First Maryland, which is administered by the state Department of Business and Economic Development.
If the loan is approved, Gilbert said, the money will be passed on to MTPM LLC, the formal name of a group of developers commonly called the Manekin team, which has been selected by the BDC to develop Bainbridge.
The team includes Richard Alter, president of Manekin LLC in Columbia; Clark Turner, president of Belcamp-based Clark Turner Cos.; and John Paterakis, a commercial developer in Baltimore. The Manekin team would guarantee repayment of the loan, Gilbert said.
Alter said the arrangement would enable the developers to construct a building on the property sooner than expected. He did not say when it would be completed.
The redevelopment of Bainbridge has been delayed several times over the past five years.
In the summer of 2000, Reston, Va.-based Lowe Enterprises Community Development Inc. proposed a plan for a $500 million resort, conference center, retirement community and business park at Bainbridge that would have had as many as 2,400 employees.
That plan fell through two years later when the county was unable to provide water and sewers to the base, which closed in 1976.
In January, the Manekin team reached an agreement with the BDC to redevelop the property.
Town officials in Port Deposit and Perryville are working on an agreement to build a regional water system that would serve both towns and Bainbridge.