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Reuse of Fort Ritchie Army base back to square 1

Tuesday - 7/24/2012, 1:58pm  ET

CASCADE, Md. - Ownership of the former Fort Ritchie Army base in Cascade is reverting to a public redevelopment authority after a private developer backed out.

The state-sponsored PenMar Development Corp. said Tuesday it has reached a settlement with Columbia-based Corporate Office Properties Trust regarding the 591- acre site about 70 miles northwest of Washington.

COPT agreed in 2006 to buy the property for $9 million. Its plans included an office park for defense and national-security contractors. Redevelopment was stalled by environmental issues including news that the Army tested Agent Orange and other tactical herbicides there decades ago.

PenMar received $5 million initially. It says COPT paid another $2 million to walk away from the deal.

PenMar says it's devising a new strategy for redeveloping the site.

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