A chunk of downtown Bel Air real estate, that was the former home of The Aegis for nearly 50 years, has been sold and will become the new home of Spartan Surfaces, a Forest Hill-based commercial flooring sales and consulting firm.
The 2.14-acre commercial property at 10 Hays Street, which contains a 93,281 square foot building, paved parking lots and has frontage on five streets, was acquired by York College Jackson Street Properties LLC in April for $1,975,000, according to state tax records.
The seller is listed as MD-10 Hays Street LLC, according to tax records. The property had been on the market since 2011, when the last of the activities related to producing The Aegis moved.
"We're going to do a remodel and move our corporate offices there by the end of the year," Wayne Carter, general manager of Spartan Surfaces, said Thursday.
Spartan Surfaces, which was founded in 2007, serves as a consultant between suppliers of commercial flooring products and their customers, Carter said. The company also coordinates with designers of the flooring products.
"Once a product is specified, we work with the customer and the supplier to get the material to the customer," he said.
The business is headquartered in a 20,000 square-foot building in the Forest Hill Industrial Airpark, and its territory includes Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Chicago.
Twenty-four employees work in the corporate office and will move to the Bel Air location. The rest of Spartan's employees work in the company's various territories.
Carter said Spartan Surfaces officials wanted to expand their business in Harford County, while moving away from the industrial park setting.
"We wanted something that was ours," he said. "We wanted something that created the culture that goes with the business we're in, and Bel Air seemed like a good fit."
Carter said the former Aegis building "just seemed to fit with Spartan and wanting to be involved in Harford County, being a pillar of Harford County."
The building takes up much of the first block of Hays Street between Thomas Street and Pennsylvania Avenue across from the Mary E. W. Risteau Multi-Service Center and District Court.
Constructed in 1962, with major additions in 1986 and 2000, the building has been vacant since March 2011, when the newspaper's editorial and advertising offices moved to 139 N. Main St. in Bel Air, following the closure of building's printing and distribution operations several months earlier.
The Aegis is part of Baltimore Sun Media Group, which is owned by Tribune Publishing. The newspaper is now printed, along with other Baltimore Sun Media Group products, at the Sun Park complex in South Baltimore.
Carter said they plan to gut much of the building's interior and renovate it in a fashion that fits Spartan Surfaces' business model, as well as upgrade the exterior.
"We're prepared for growth, and that space would be able to sustain our growth going forward," he said.
He said the work is expected to begin in August and take about four months.
Although the company had considered selling flooring on a retail basis at the new location, Carter said they decided against it.
"There will be no retail space," he said.
Kevin Small, the Town of Bel Air's planning director, said Spartan Surfaces has obtained town approval for its site plan and landscaping plan under the town's special development regulations, which was necessary because of the building's size. Those regulations allow the town Planning Commission discretion to set conditions on landscaping, lighting, exterior appearance and other aspects of the site plan.
"Because they're more of a corporate business entity and not an industrial [entity], it was determined that they were going to make a pretty much minimal impact to the surrounding area," Small said.
The planning director said the new occupant will give the building exterior a "facelift," add landscaping around the building and parking areas, add sidewalks, and will be required to provide a public art amenity, either on the property or another location in Bel Air.
A decorative window to provide passersby a view of printing presses in operation was installed on the Thomas Street side of the building as a public art entity when The Aegis occupied it, but Small said Spartan Surfaces will close off the window and the small landscaped area by it on Thomas Street that has been neglected since the building became vacant.