The A.V. Williams Trust, owner of 1,000 acres of raw land in eastern Baltimore County, has picked Bethesda's Somerset Construction Co. as it development partner.
The decision represents a crucial step forward in converting at least 600 acres - bisected by the upcoming Maryland Route 43 extension - into "Baltimore Crossroads @95," a business park that economic development leaders believe will eventually translate into 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs for the county.
"This is meaningful in that it is moving the opening of the Route 43 corridor closer to reality," said David S. Iannucci, executive director of Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, adding the road and development plans date back a decade.
Although Somerset Construction does not yet have blueprints for the property, the company plans to bring in real estate developers and managers to build office, flex, research and development, manufacturing and distribution space.
A decision on those partners is expected to be announced by early fall, said Neil Greenberg, a principal of Somerset construction Co.
Meantime, Greenberg and Iannucci said they have been targeting bio and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies for the primarily business-and industrial-zoned property, which could eventually accommodate between 5 million and 8 million square feet of space.
"We have been pursuing - with the county - a bio user who been interested in a large portion of the site," said Greenberg, declining to name the company, for fear of scuttling a potential deal.
Despite the vast amount of planned commercial development, the site will include "preservation of abundant forest and natural resources to create unique business environments," according to a prepared statement from the county.
The project was given its first boost when the $60 million, 3.8-mile extension of Route 43 dividing the A.V Williams property got under way. About 25 percent finished, the expanded road is expected to open in late 2005, according to the county. Greenberg expects real estate construction to correspond with the road opening.
The extension through the property not only links White Marsh to the Middle River waterfront, but it also provides access to Interstate 95.
Both Iannucci and Greenberg said the upcoming project's access to I-95, Baltimore/Washington International Airport, the Port of Baltimore and rail lines have already made it an attractive option for companies.