Time Warner Inc. is close to selecting White Marsh as the home of a huge eastern distribution center for the company's retail chain of stores selling merchandise inspired by Warner Bros. hit movies and cartoons.
While the communications and entertainment giant has declined discuss its plans, others said that the negotiations have been narrowed to talks with Towson-based Nottingham Properties, the owner of most undeveloped land in White Marsh.
But competing developers have not been told that they will not be selected, apparently so Time Warner can return to them if talks with Nottingham don't yield a deal.
"They're in negotiation with a local developer," said Neil Jacobs, executive director of Baltimore County's Department of Economic Development, confirming that the developer is Nottingham. "There's no deal yet to the best of my knowledge."
"Nothing is done," said J. Richard Latini, a broker at CB Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. in Baltimore who is representing Time Warner. "It's still going through a lot of evaluation."
Nottingham President Douglas Dollenberg said he cannot comment, in part because Time Warner has made it clear to all developers in the competition that it wants to contain publicity on the selection.
If the talks between Nottingham and Time Warner result in a deal, the Towson firm would build a two-phase project that eventually would be a 700,000-square-foot warehouse.
The project would use the latest technology in warehousing, employing extra-high ceilings and very narrow aisles to allow Time Warner to use more automation than in a conventional distribution center.
The estimated $40 million price would likely make the warehouse the most valuable commercial development of 1994 in the Baltimore area.
In 1993, the new headquarters of the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration and an addition to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore were the only larger projects awarded permits.
Other developers competing for the Time Warner project mostly have been in Harford County, including a Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. unit, Constellation Real Estate Inc., which offered a site in Aberdeen.
"We've received no notification or communication from them or their broker," said Richard Uhlig, a marketing executive at Constellation. But, he added, "where there's smoke there's fire."