Manekin Corp. officially unveiled plans yesterday for a $32 million industrial project, describing it as a "field of dreams" that will attract high-paying jobs and continue business growth in Howard County.
"We believe this is the best location in the Baltimore/Washington corridor," Richard M. Alter, Manekin's president and chief executive, said of the 223-acre Troy Hill Corporate Center.
The new project, in Elkridge, eventually will contain four buildings totaling 850,000 square feet of state-of-the-art warehouse distribution space. At least 500 employees are envisaged for the site.
Manekin, a Columbia-based real estate development, brokerage and management firm, intends to begin the speculative development at Troy Hill in May with completion of an initial phase slated for December. Manekin will spend about $3.5 million to complete roads, sewer lines, lighting, grading and other infrastructure for the project.
Manekin, whose developments include more than 100 buildings encompassing 7.5 million square feet, will construct Troy Hill in conjunction with Prudential Real Estate Investors, a division of // the New Jersey-based insurance conglomerate that has $4.4 billion in real estate assets under management.
State and Howard County officials said Troy Hill will continue the "growth and momentum" of distribution centers in the county, which have been fueled by high demand, low vacancy levels and tenants' need for buildings with the potential to incorporate advanced automation.
"The industry supported by this development is critical," said James T. Brady, secretary of the state's Department of Business and Economic Development.
"This is an extraordinary expression of confidence on the part of people who really understand what it takes to make business work."
Richard W. Story, Howard County's economic development chief, said the jobs created will be high-tech in nature, and command commensurate salaries. The average gross wage for jobs in wholesale trades, which include distribution center positions, is $741 per week, according to recent statistics compiled by the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
"The jobs here involve controlling robotics and computers," Mr. Story said.
However, by beginning work on Troy Hill now, Manekin may delay several other developers who are considering similar speculative warehouse projects in the Baltimore/Washington corridor.
"I think this project forces everybody to reconsider their position in the market and their costs associated with putting up speculative projects," said David P. Scheffenacker Jr., president Preston Partners, the Baltimore real estate brokerage that
involved Prudential in the project.