Blue Ocean, a Baltimore-based real estate firm, announced plans this week to buy and redevelop the massive former Martin Aircraft manufacturing plant in Middle River.
Blue Ocean said it has a contract to buy the 1.9 million-square-foot structure that sprawls across 49 acres adjacent to Martin State Airport at the intersection of White Marsh and Eastern boulevards.
While the company said it still is developing plans, it aims to “breathe new life” into the moribund property known as Middle River Depot by rebranding it as “Aviation Station.” It intends to improve the historic property for other uses besides industrial and recreational.
Martin Aircraft produced the B-26 Marauder bomber at the plant during World War II, employing as many as 50,000 people in the plant.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The state values the property for tax purposes at $9 million.
It last changed hands in 2007 when the federal government sold the property for $37.5 million to Middle River Station Development LLC. Representatives for that company could not be reached.
The Evening Sun
“By reinvesting in this historic site, we can ignite the economic potential of this property and continue to expand opportunity across the Middle River community,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski in a statement.
A number of ideas have been floated for the property over the years, including redeveloping it as a Super Walmart, as an indoor sport and fitness facility, as a music venue and as a mixed-use project.
The sale would nearly double the size of Blue Ocean’s commercial portfolio. Its 25-property portfolio has about 2 million square feet of commercial real estate as well as 3,300 apartments, according to its website. This is a big step for a company best known previously for a controversial proposal to develop apartments in North Roland Park in Baltimore.
Baltimore County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, who represents the area, welcomed the pending sale.
“The property has been an eyesore for years and the community deserves better.” she said in a statement.
“This is a great opportunity to bring more jobs and positive investment to Middle River.”
The property, located next to the MARC commuter train station, was designated last year as an Opportunity Zone, a big new federal tax break included in last year’s tax reform that offers a break on capital gains taxes for new investment in such zones.