Tract reportedly is topic of talks

Vacant Columbia gas-station site is focus


Exxon Mobil Corp., is in talks with a Baltimore-based real estate development firm wanting to take over an Oakland Mills Village Center property that has been vacant since the oil company closed the gas station in 1999, village officials announced last week.

Metroventures/USA Inc. is considering building an office complex on the 1.7-acre property at an entrance to the village center, according to an e-mail distributed by the village. Village officials did not have any further information about the size of the complex or a timeline for construction.

The fate of the space, in the 5800 block of Stevens Forest Road, has been heavily debated, and in 2004 the development of a 96-unit senior housing complex was nixed because Exxon refused to sell the property. Years ago, underground gas tanks were removed, and last week a "for sale" sign stood near the bare lot where grass was growing through the cracks in the asphalt.

Metroventures principal, Olusola O. Seriki, said the village's announcement "was premature" and declined to comment on any specifics.

Paula Chen, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil Corp., said the property "has not technically been sold. We are reviewing the offer at the moment."

Village officials are optimistic about the deal and say filling the vacant space will continue the revitalization of the village center.

"We have been looking for a long time for something positive to happen to that place and something positive to set the tone for the revitalization of the center," said Karen Gray, vice-chairwoman of the Oakland Mills Village Board.

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