The owners of the Washingtonian Center and other properties on a 236-acre tract along I-270 north of Shady Grove Road have asked city officials to annex their land -- a deal that the Mayor W. Edward Bohrer Jr. said could bring financial security to his community "forever."

Under a plan announced Monday, city officials will begin working on an annexation agreement they estimate could bring the city an additional $1.1 million in annual city property tax revenues by the year 2001. The city budget this year is $16.5 million.

City Manager Sanford W. Daily said the city's Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Jan. 2 to discuss the proposal to annex the Ackerman and Co. Washingtonian Center office and retail complex, a site owned by the Bechtel Corp. and a parcel on which the Marriott Corp. is now building a hotel.

Under the proposed annexation agreement, Gaithersburg would give the property owners a 10-year tax break, requiring them to pay a total of about $154,500 in city property taxes annually. After 2001, when the tax break would end, the total tax benefit to the city could reach $1.1 million annually, Daily said, based on the current property owners' development plans at the site. If development on the property is limited, the city could still expect a total tax benefit of $300,000 annually, Daily said.

Bohrer said the plan to bring the land inside city borders would not change the existing county zoning on the property or increase the amount of building permitted on the site.

Although the annexation would mean a 7 to 12 percent increase in real estate taxes for the owners of the annexed properties, Daily said, they have expresed interest in establishing more of a "municipal identity."

Daniel C. Cramer, senior vice president of Ackerman and Co., said in a statement, "The original vision of Washingtonian Center was to create a mixed-use environment that was an integral part of the surrounding community. Annexation into the city will allow us to become more deeply involved on a local level."

In other news, Bohrer is scheduled today to receive an award for Gaithersburg's work with the homeless from Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Advisory Board on Homelessness.

The ceremony in Annapolis will honor Gaithersburg's Wells/Robertson House, a residence behind City Hall where the city's homeless receive temporary housing and counseling, often for substance abuse. The program also offers job training and a community job bank. About 70 people have participated in the program, which has recently expanded to include single parents recovering from substance abuse. The city aims to keep families intact and find them affordable housing.


A memorial service for former Mayor Sammie Abbott will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Washington Ethical Society, 7750 16th St. NW.

Abbott, whose controversial style and unrelenting activism helped transform the community, died Saturday of myelodysplasia anemia. He was 82.

As mayor from 1980 to 1985, Abbott championed the causes for which he had a lifelong concern: civil rights, nuclear weapons and the plight of the poor. During his tenure as mayor, the city declared itself a "nuclear free zone" and prohibited any business with companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Also, while he was mayor, the city enacted rent control, installed speed bumps and worked to stop school closings.

In 1985, he lost his bid for re-election by seven votes to Stephen J. Del Giudice, who left the mayor's post earlier this month to take a seat on the Prince George's County Council.

Del Giudice's victory over Abbott came after the young lawyer promised residents he would pay more attention to the day-to-day operation of city government. Many residents and political observers said that Del Giudice's entry to city politics signified that residents were distancing themselves from Abbott's liberal philosophies in favor of a more pragmatic approach.

His activism continued after even after his defeat. In 1988, he was arrested protesting a Montgomery County move to evict illegal renters in Takoma Park.