Loudoun County's economic development director said Robert Kettler's financial troubles in the county are more the result of a regional economic slowdown than any requirement by the county that the developer provide public amenities before moving forward.

Terry Holzheimer said the county should not be blamed for requiring the developer to donate public services and amenities before building the Cascades and Brambleton projects. "No one held a gun to his head," Holzheimer said.

On Friday, it was learned that Kettler has been forced to transfer control of the two huge projects to Chevy Chase Federal Savings Bank, which provided millions of dollars to launch the projects.

The projects -- expected to be worth $4.5 billion when they are completed -- are to stretch over 6,000 acres and eventually include millions of square feet of office space and house more than 30,000 people -- the same number of people who now live in Manassas.

Kettler agreed to provide $50 million in public facilities to the county. The donations, made in return for county approval, are known as proffers.

The projects were to include a variety of public services such as parkland, a library, a group home for the mentally ill, a residential center for senior citizens, community centers and a farmer's market.

In addition, Kettler offered to build five miles of the Algonkian Parkway, 20 miles of trails, a bridge, a highway interchange on Route 7 and an expansion of Route 7 from four lanes to six. The road improvements alone were estimated to cost $50 million.

Such an unusually high expenditure at an early stage of the project's construction "probably contributed" to the firm's financial dilemma, said Loudoun County Planning Commission member Robert Palmer, whose Broad Run district includes the Cascades development.

Kettler agreed that providing the improvements contributed to his problems.

Holzheimer said that Kettler, like any developer, should know that proffers are part of the cost of doing business in the Washington area. "Any suggestion that the proffer system affected {Kettler's} fiscal stability is absolutely incorrect," Holzheimer said.

The change in ownership -- along with the region's economic slowdown -- is expected to delay construction of the projects and the public improvements they are to include.

Holzheimer said he expected work on the Cascades project to continue, although development of Brambleton might be pushed back five to seven years.

But on the whole, the county should be able to weather the economic consequences of the building slowdown, Holzheimer said.