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Open arms welcome pharmaceutical firm at Rosewood Center NIRO Inc. subsidiary was supposed to be tenant at UMBC research park


The company that Catonsville and Arbutus rejected could become the cornerstone for redevelopment at the Rosewood Center in Owings Mills.

Maryland and Baltimore County officials are hurrying to prepare a site for Atlantic Pharmaceutical Services on surplus property at the state residential facility for the mentally retarded.

The company, a subsidiary of Columbia-based NIRO Inc., was to have been the first tenant at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's research park in Catonsville, but community opposition has delayed the park and sent the project into the courts.

Residents of Reisterstown, Owings Mills and Glyndon, however, are welcoming the company as a chance to redevelop the long-vacant land on the north side of Rosewood Center at Crondall Lane.

"I think they're going to be a good neighbor," said Vicki Almond, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council. "We could have a lot worse things."

Atlantic Pharmaceutical Services, which will make small batches of pills and capsules, is to employ about 35 people initially, and plans to increase the work force to 60 within three years.

State and county officials are rushing to meet the original schedule Atlantic Pharmaceutical Services wanted at UMBC. The company wanted to begin production early in 1997.

County officials this week gave the nod for the company to apply for building permits. The state is making plans to demolish two vacant buildings on the site.

Baltimore County's economic development director, Robert L. Hannon, said he hopes all will be ready for groundbreaking around Nov. 1, but state officials say the date more likely will be Dec. 1.

The state is to pay for construction of the $5.5-million building and lease the facility and about three acres to the pharmaceutical company.

As the state prepares the site for Atlantic Pharmaceutical Services, it also is reviewing the development potential for the rest of the land, said Hans Mayer, executive director of the Maryland Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit development arm of the state.

Local leaders say the project could be the breakthrough they've been looking for.

"Some of our businesses we have lost to other counties because there wasn't land for them," said Sandy Smith, executive director of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has urged development of the surplus parcels at Rosewood for years, suggesting that the main campus be used for an extension of Catonsville Community College, a regional library and a facility to care for elderly residents.

The chamber has suggested that the approximately 60 acres on Rosewood's north side be developed for small businesses.

"We're very excited," Ms. Smith said. "It will be wonderful to have at least a small part of that property returned to use."

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