The Manekin Corp. is expected this morning to announce plans for a $30 million industrial project in Howard County, the largest new development of its kind in the Baltimore area in roughly a decade.
Manekin's plans for the 223-acre Troy Hill business park in Elkridge come as demand for new distribution centers has surged, available space is at a premium and rental rates have been rising.
"Based on absorption figures of space taken off the market in the past two years, current vacancy levels and our wisdom of the market, we've concluded that there's room for at least 400,000 square feet of new space," said J. Richard Latini, a Colliers Pinkard vice president and manager of the commercial real estate services firm's industrial group.
"But there's also a question of timing. The firm that can complete a building by the end of the year will definitely succeed."
That confluence of factors has caused several area developers to formulate similar speculative projects.
Most notably, Security Capital Industrial Trust last week announced plans for a $12 million, 305,000-square-foot industrial project in the Hanover section of Anne Arundel County. Construction will begin there next month.
Manekin's decision to build 850,000 square feet of new industrial space -- roughly equivalent in size to the three skyscrapers the firm has developed downtown in its 50-year history -- is also expected to enhance the Baltimore/Washington corridor's already solid reputation as a premier place from which to distribute goods, analysts said.
Initially, Manekin will develop two speculative buildings in Troy Hill totaling 550,000 square feet. Potentially, Manekin could develop as much as 1.2 million square feet of so-called bulk industrial space there, sources said.
Manekin officials did not return telephone calls for comment concerning their news conference this morning, which is expected also to be attended by James T. Brady, secretary of the state's Department of Business and Economic Development.
Based on formulas to determine job creation from industrial developments, Troy Hill would create at least 425 new jobs.
The new distribution space isn't expected to affect Manekin's other plans to eventually develop a 100,000-square-foot shopping center in Troy Hill, for which it obtained a zoning change in 1993.
"It's a good location, because of its proximity to Interstate 95 and Route 100, which are prime truck routes for distribution," said Matthew J. Ryan Jr., a Casey & Associates Inc. senior vice president and industrial real estate specialist. "And there are easily enough tenants in the market to support it."
Mr. Ryan's research indicates there are 17 prospective tenants currently scouring the Baltimore/Washington corridor with space requirements in excess of 100,000 square feet.
Manekin, a Columbia-based firm, originally planned to complete Troy Hill's first phase in early 1991, after purchasing the land in conjunction with Copley Real Estate Advisors, a Boston-based pension fund adviser with which it has developed nearly $500 million worth of projects since 1981.
Troy Hill stalled, however, when the local commercial real estate market became glutted and crashed in 1990 resulting from the economic recession that year.
For Manekin, owner of a 25-story Charles Center South office tower at 36 S. Charles St., Troy Hill marks its largest new project in the Baltimore area since 1989, when it completed a 25-story skyscraper at 120 E. Baltimore St.
Excluding Troy Hill, it has another $26.6 million worth of projects under way for Crisplant USA Inc., the Carroll County Health Department and SuperFresh supermarkets.