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BJ's Wholesale Club planned for Southeast Baltimore

A new BJ's Wholesale Club could open in Southeast Baltimore by the end of next year, said a development firm that has been working to make the area a shopping destination.

Officials at Chesapeake Real Estate Group, who are partners in the Canton Crossing shops, said the company has an agreement with BJ's to locate on a 6.58-acre site on O'Donnell Street, formerly occupied by the New Jersey-based specialty paint company Complimentary Coatings Corp., which last year announced plans to close. The property, which includes a roughly 122,000-square-foot warehouse and is owned by Weil Realty LLC, is under contract, they said.

"As developers we eat [and] sleep … looking at properties that can be converted and this is one we've been tracking for a long time," said Doug Schmidt, a principal at Chesapeake.

Chesapeake will go before the Baltimore City Municipal Zoning and Appeals Board July 15 about its plans for 4701 O'Donnell St., which involve locating a gas station and tire store on the site, said BMZA Executive Director David Tanner. The company is planning about 310 parking spaces, while reducing the footprint of the warehouse to 85,000 square feet, according to documents filed with the city.

Schmidt declined to say the expected cost of the project. Weil purchased the property, which has access to Boston Street and is close to I-95, in 2005 for $2.3 million, according to land records.

BJ's, which has five locations in Maryland including stores near White Marsh and Columbia, did not respond to a request for comment.

Neil J. Tucker, a partner at Chesapeake, said growth throughout the city's waterfront neighborhoods has helped make the city an appealing place for retailers. In Southeast Baltimore, Canton Crossing is about to start a second 10-acre phase, while MCB Real Estate is planning a mixed use development on a nearby Eastern Avenue industrial site.

"We think we've hit the tipping point where downtown Baltimore is perceived as an excellent place to locate stores," Tucker said.

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