An automobile "disassembly line" that would dismantle thousands of junked cars to sell for parts and create more than 100 jobs is set to open in East Baltimore this spring, city and company officials said yesterday.
Comprehensive Automobile Reclamation Services of Maryland hopes to begin operations in mid-April and to take apart 80 cars a day and employ 50 people in its first year, eventually more than doubling those numbers, officials said.
The $4.5 million project moved a step closer to fruition yesterday when the city agreed to lease 6 acres to the company on the site of the old Continental Can plant on East Biddle Street. The land will be used as a staging area for the vehicles, which actually will be taken apart in a 200,000-square-foot building the company is leasing from a private owner north of the city site.
Under the disassembly process, cars will be stripped of everything from foam to fluids to fenders as they are moved along a 300-foot conveyor belt, officials said, with the reclaimed materials to be sold for remanufacture.
The process will allow 95 percent of a car's parts to be recovered, far more than at scrap yards, limiting material that goes to landfills, they said.
"This is really a different approach to an old problem," said John W. Cullen III, a Baltimore County businessman who is president of the venture.
Reaction to the CARS project was generally positive.
Daniel Jerrems, chair of the Baltimore Recycling Coalition, noted that traditional scrap-yard shredding created noise and pollution and said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the plan.
"It sounds like it could be a good thing," he said.
1st District Councilwoman Lois Garey, who was briefed on the project in advance along with community groups, said she has heard little neighborhood opposition from an area starved for employment.
"It creates jobs, which is really important," said Ms. Garey, whose district includes the site of the company.
"My first response was, 'That's a junkyard.' But it seems to be different from that," she added.
Under the 10-year lease with the city negotiated by the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) and approved yesterday by the Board of Estimates, the company will pay $36,000 a year for the 6-acre parcel.
Rent for the first five years will be forgiven if the company meets employment levels of 50 full-time workers by the end of the first year, 100 by the end of the second year and 125 by the end of the third year. Three-quarters of the employees must be city residents.
The city also agreed to provide up to $100,000 of improvements at the site, including fencing, grading and landscaping.
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development is guaranteeing a $600,000 bank loan for equipment purchases and is providing $150,000 in training funds, according to documents, while company principals are investing $750,000.
Mr. Cullen, former president of Nevamar Corp., an Odenton manufacturer of counter tops, said the semiskilled jobs to be created by his new company would pay $10 to $12 an hour, with benefits.
The company will get junked cars from insurance companies, fleet owners and others within a 75-mile radius of the city, said Sara R. Trenery, senior vice president at BDC.