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Press Room

Developers have open road to filling up business parks

October 27, 2006  •  source

The recent opening of the Maryland Route 43 extension in Middle River will make it easier for people to access the Baltimore Crossroads @ 95 business park under development, but developers attached to the project say not to expect a bustling environment there for at least six months or more.

"These projects ramp up over time, and they reach a certain synergistic level that we don't expect to see for another six months," said Gerard J. Wit, vice president of St. John Properties, one of the project's developers. "Now that the road's open, we are very enthusiastic."

The Baltimore Crossroads project is a 1,000-acre business park in eastern Baltimore County. St. John Properties and two other developers -- Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC and First Industrial Realty Trust -- have been selected to build on portions of the land. Somerset Construction Co., the master developer for the site, also is handling some of the development.

Wit said he has received interest from a number of possible tenants, but so far St. John has only signed one tenant, Surety Recovery Management LLC, to a 3,000 square-foot space. He said he has issued leases to two other tenants, but those deals have not been signed yet.

He said it was challenging to get companies to sign leases at the site before the road opened. He has seen an increased volume of activity since the road opened, including interest from potential tenants who attended St. John's open house Oct. 24. Wit said Alexander's Mobility Services, which signed a lease with First Industrial for 130,000 square feet of space in October 2005, has been the only significant tenant to be signed at the business park.

State and Baltimore County officials heralded this week's opening of the $75 million, 3.8-mile Route 43 extension as a "Field of Dreams"-like phenomenon for economic development and job creation. The road runs between U.S. Route 40 and Maryland Route 150, and opens up access to what was essentially a landlocked property.

Somerset President Mike Caruthers said he and others were hesitant to build at the site until the road opened, though he felt at least some effort needed to be made to send a message the project was moving ahead.

"There's a certain part of us that said we really shouldn't even start building until the road opens," Caruthers said. "If we sat on our hands [and delayed construction], people would wonder."

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