The new owners of a sizable 52-acre plot of land in White Marsh said on Monday they would scrap plans for an outlet mall and instead build warehouses for retailers who want to store goods for a period of time. fast turnaround for customers.
Baltimore-area developers Atapco Properties and Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC said the change was in response to demand for warehouse space along the Interstate 95 corridor from retailers.
The partners purchased the Route 43 and Interstate 95 land last month for $15.3 million from Paragon Outlets Baltimore, according to CoStar Group, a real estate information company.
They plan to have offices and retail on the property, and expect to have more specific plans soon.
“This site is ready to go and we intend to capitalize on existing pent-up demand for office-warehouse and e-commerce space strategically located along the Interstate 95 corridor,” said Jim Lighthizer, founder and owner of Chesapeake Real Estate Group.
“Few sites in the Mid-Atlantic region can match this project’s exceptional freeway visibility and access from Interstate 95, proximity to multiple ports including Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington, and the access to nearly one-third of the population of the United States in a one-day truck drive,” he said. “We recently began marketing the site to end users and it’s extremely well received.”
Paragon bought the site in 2015 for $18.6 million from Corporate Office Properties Trust, according to CoStar.
Retail experts said a mall was a good use of the site when it was proposed. But he faced opposition from residents and the nearby White Marsh shopping centre. This led to a lawsuit and dispute over zoning, although voters ultimately backed a zoning bill allowing outlets to continue.
Paragon, however, dissolved early last year in a changing business landscape and decided to sell the property after receiving a number of inquiries.
Real estate experts say the industrial property market has been buoyant as retailers seek distribution centers along the I-95 corridor and elsewhere. Several transactions have been concluded recently to buy and develop properties.
The greater Baltimore metro area absorbed 6 million square feet of warehouse space in 2017, well above the previous year’s tally, and demand continues this year, according to Bill Pellington, senior vice president. from CBRE.
He cited companies such as Amazon, FedEx, FILA, Sephora Americas, Pier 1 Imports and Under Armor signing major leases in the area. Amazon, FedEx and Under Armor have all built warehouses on the site of the former Sparrows Point Steel Mill being redeveloped by TradePoint Atlantic.
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Blackstone Real Estate Partners also recently purchased a set of 40 industrial property sites in the Baltimore-Washington corridor from FRP Development Corp. for $347.2 million.
Chesapeake Real Estate Group and Atapco Properties have partnered on other projects, including Patuxent Range Road in Baltimore Washington’s Industrial Park and Antrim Commons Business Park in Pennsylvania.
The White Marsh site is ideal for industrial uses and some office and retail uses, said Lighthizer, who expects the first building to be ready next summer. The property is within 10 miles of about 750,000 consumers and within 50 miles of nearly 7 million people, he said. More than 160,000 vehicles a day pass by the property, which is also close to the Port of Baltimore and not far from the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.
He said demand has grown for the warehouses, many of which are much larger than those traditionally built for area retailers, due to changes in Americans’ shopping habits. People want goods in a day or two, even an hour or two, he said. And, he said, “You can’t get something in two hours if it’s three.”
The White Marsh site will allow for this type of turnaround and will add order processing jobs to the area, as well as clerical and IT positions. The site is also visible from the highway, which will appeal to some businesses that want to advertise or drive people to the outlets.
With few undeveloped parcels remaining in the area, he said developers would likely consider more existing commercial or industrial properties that are unused or underused.
“This property was meant to be commercial 20 years ago and now the demand is for office and warehouse space,” he said. “We will start to see more redevelopments of older existing buildings that will either be demolished or repositioned. There just aren’t many green fields.