The Baltimore Sun recently reported that the site of a former General Motors factory in the southeast part of the city may soon be transformed into a major warehouse and distribution center.
According to the news source, the 2.8 million-square-foot site was purchased by Duke Realty Corporation in 2006. Subsequently, the firm was awarded two grants for site assessment and remediation by the state Department of Business and Economic Development. Agency spokesperson Karen Glenn Hood told the Sun that the state provided a total of $680,000 worth of funding to support the remediation work that was necessary to prepare the site for redevelopment.
The property is also eligible for tax credits due to its location in the city’s enterprise zone and the Sun suggested that other incentives may also have been offered to Duke by the municipal or state governments, as officials at both levels had been committed to finding an organization willing to revitalize the site since GM closed its factory in 2005.
Redevelopment expected to support growth of employment and local industries
Councilman James Kraft, whose district includes the former GM property, told reporters that he is optimistic about the redevelopment project’s potential.
“This is a major coup for the city of Baltimore,” Kraft said. “It’s going to be a tremendous number of jobs.”
According to Kraft, the developer plans to break ground in September and open the warehouse in the fall of 2014. Kimberly Clark, vice president of the quasi-public Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), told the Sun that Duke is “currently trying to recruit tenants for the site,” although Kraft indicated that he believes the facility was being developed on behalf of a specific prospective tenant.
According to documents filed by Duke with the City Planning Committee, the new warehouse could employ as many as 2,600 people. The one-story building would reportedly cover about 1 million square feet—almost one-third of the property. Other parts of the site are already occupied by four companies that collectively employ around 500 people. While this fails to match the roughly 7,000 workers employed at the GM plant in its heyday, the influx of thousands of jobs is sure to be a boon to the local economy.
Clark noted that the new facility will help Baltimore capitalize on the potential created by the expansion of the Panama Canal and improvements at the city’s Seagirt Marine Terminal. The BDC executive explained that “the availability of warehouse and industrial space within Baltimore City [has become] very important in the retention, expansion and attraction of industrial businesses and jobs.”
Economic revitalization dependent on success of environmental remediation
The Sun’s reporters also spoke to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who emphasized her administration’s commitment to promoting the development of local businesses.
“I have made growing Baltimore City’s economy a major priority,” Rawlings-Blake said. “The city has been working with Duke Realty to ensure they have the necessary tools to remain competitive in attracting new tenants and creating jobs for city residents.”
With the city’s manufacturing sector—formerly a bedrock of its economy—experiencing a long-term decline, the cleansing of contamination at former industrial properties is a vital step in creating space for new businesses to thrive. When stakeholders seek to complete remediation projects, it is essential to take a full-cycle approach that accounts for every step of the process, from site assessment to clean-up, waste removal and reporting.
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