Racetrack owner sells property

Site near Laurel Park will become place to live, work, shop

February 08, 2007|By a sun reporter

Plans for residential and commercial development of 64 acres in Howard County adjacent to Laurel Park racetrack might be submitted soon, a county official said yesterday.

Magna Entertainment Corp., the Canadian-based owner of the thoroughbred track, announced yesterday that it has agreed to sell the property for $20 million. The buyer will be MI Developments Inc., the parent of Magna.

Donald Cameron, chief operating officer of MI Developments, said the project will be a joint venture with a local partner, whom he did not identify.

Marsha S. McLaughlin, director of the Department of Planning and Zoning, said the department has held discussions with Magna.

She described those talks as "somewhat exploratory," and primarily focused on county regulations, permitted uses on the property and the type of development that would be most desirable.

But she said a development plan is expected to be submitted soon.

"It's not unlikely that we will see something in the near future," she said.

By that, McLaughlin said, she means "in a month or two. ... Not a year from now."

The project, Cameron said, will include residential, commercial and retail components. It will be designed to take advantage of the commuter rail station at the site.

He said it will probably be two years before ground is broken for the project.

"Over the course of time we will develop it out," he said. "It won't be tomorrow."

The project, he said, will allow people to reside, work and shop there.

Plans were announced last year for a mixed-use development on the Anne Arundel County side of Laurel Park.

Magna also announced the sale to its parent of 34 acres in Aurora, Ontario, for $12 million Canadian.

The deals will help Magna reduce its debt, said Blake S. Tohana, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Magna.

The transactions bring the amount Magna has earned from selling assets in the last 16 months to $400 million, he said.

Magna, however, retains the right to receive 15 percent of net proceeds from any sale or developments of the properties. That provisions kicks in, though, only after MI Developments has achieved a 15 percent rate of return.

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