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W.B. Mason opens Howard County distribution center

W.B. Mason signs 16-year lease to open Howard County distribution center

A Massachusetts-based office supply company has opened a distribution center in Howard County, as it expands its presence in the region, landlord Washington Capitol Partners LLC announced Thursday.

W.B. Mason has signed a 16-year agreement to occupy a nearly 190,000-square-foot office and warehouse building in the Guilford Industrial Park in Columbia, said Peter C. Minshall, managing partner at Washington Capitol.

About 50 people are expected to work at the 9420 Gerwig Lane site, which is also planned to host a "Whatta Bargain Store," where people can buy discounted furniture and other products, he said.

W.B. Mason, a privately held firm with a national workforce of more than 2,300 people, did not respond to a request for comment. Allen Cornell of NAI Michael, who represented the firm in lease negotiations, declined to comment, saying he was bound by confidentiality agreements.

Washington Capitol acquired the 9.7-acre property in May. Established in 2007, the company owns about 650,000 square feet of real estate in the Washington region, Minshall said. This is its first industrial property in Howard County.

When the firm purchased the building, W.B. Mason occupied about 19,000 square feet of space, but the rest of the warehouse had been vacant for several years, Minshall said.

"We wanted to be in the marketplace and we were willing to accept the risk," he said, noting that the lease is both larger and longer than the typical deal in the region.

Washington Capitol Partners paid $9.3 million to assume a contract for the property, Minshall said. The longtime owner sold the site in May for about $8.4 million, according to land records.

The firm expects to invest about $1 million in improvements to the 1975 building, including repaving the parking lot and installing a new heating and cooling system, Minshall said. Those renovations are underway, he said.

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