Virginia officials are threatening to find a new site for the planned state-supported Center for Innovative Technology if the owners of the current Northern Virginia site do not move faster on the project.
Gov. Charles S. Robb chose a 35-acre site on the Fairfax-Loudoun County border near Dulles International Airport nearly a year ago for the $30 million center.
State officials say they will offer an "ultimatum" Monday to the two landowners who have offered to donate the land for the CIT but who have not yet deeded the land to the state. The statement is the most serious indication yet that the complex, which is to bring together private industry and universities for high-tech research, is in trouble.
"It's put up or shut up. It's an ultimatum," said one state legislator familiar with the dispute. "The state wants these deeds and it wants them now."
"There's deep concern from the governor's office and other key people in the state about the slow progress that's been made on finalizing plans on the CIT," said state Sen. Charles L. Waddell, who represents Loudoun County.
Several officials, who asked that they not be identified, said they are eyeing a number of alternative tracts in the Dulles area, and may even consider sites outside Northern Virginia.
The two landowners -- Alan I. Kay, a principal in Rozansky & Kay Construction, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the Washington area, and Samir Kawar, a Jordanian businessman -- own a 174-acre tract that includes the CIT site. They also have submitted plans to Fairfax and Loudoun counties for erecting large office buildings, hotels and conference centers on the surrounding land.
"They're milking the [CIT] for all it's worth," said one official. "And there's going to be some head-knocking over it."
A spokesman for Kawar stressed yesterday that the contract signed by the developers and the state doesn't call for the 35 acres to be turned over for the high-tech center until zoning matters are settled with the county governments.
But county officials say plans for the potentially valuable land around the CIT have shifted frequently and that they have not yet begun to negotiate with the landowners over the density of the planned development or the roads needed to support it.
County officials also have said that the landowners have indicated they want denser development than the counties will allow. They say they are concerned that the CIT, meant to be the focal point of the development in the area, will be overshadowed by the buildings around it.
Both Kay and Richard R.G. Hobson, an attorney for Kawar, said that their plans are reasonable and within limits set by the counties.
"We are getting a little anxious," said CIT President Robert H. Pry. "The issue is what we can do to move the thing along."
Pry, who has said frequently that he wants a groundbreaking for the center late this summer, said he does not now favor changing sites. But, he added, "it is time to accelerate a bit."
"I would think there is a limit to how long we can play at this thing," said Kay. He said he is willing now to deed his portion of the CIT site to the state.
A number of officials familiar with the negotiations blamed Kawar for the delays.
They said he is frequently out of the country and has given his representatives little authority to operate on his behalf.
Hobson said, however, that Kawar has been here "frequently" and is available "whenever he needs to come over or be reached."