P&G; plant's sale to A&E; International completed Locust Point factory shuttered in '95 could hire more than 250


A Korean manufacturer yesterday finalized its $7 million purchase of the dormant Procter & Gamble Co. soap-making factory in Locust Point, a move slated to eventually add more than 250 jobs in South Baltimore.

A&E; International Ltd. plans to use the 26-acre plant at 1422 Nicholson St. to import raw materials and manufacture Soju, a liquor popular in the Far East.

"What is particularly appealing about this property is that it offers an excellent mix of manufacturing and distribution space, and it contains a pier, so that it can be used as a point of departure for products that are produced there and exported," said William M. Pellington, a CB Commercial Real Estate Group Inc. broker who represented A&E.;

The Korean company has said it intends initially to hire about 100 workers and begin operations there in the spring. A&E; President Chang Lie, who was at the plant yesterday, could not be reached for comment.

A&E;'s purchase comes roughly 1 1/2 years after Procter & Gamble shuttered its 66-year-old soap facility in a worldwide consolidation and laid off 215 workers.

For the city, A&E;'s purchase reverses a systemic loss of manufacturing jobs since the 1950s, a period in which more than 100,000 such jobs have disappeared, along with names such as Esskay Quality Meat Co. and London Fog Corp.

"Terrific opportunity"

"It's a terrific opportunity," said James T. Brady, secretary of the XTC state's Department of Business and Economic Development. "What this does is suggest to us that there might be creative ways to use older facilities like this. While there probably aren't huge numbers of other opportunities like this out there, they should at least be more on our radar screen."

It could not be determined yesterday how many of the 26 buildings at the plant A&E; will use or how much investment the company would have to make to begin operating there.

"The plant is nearly 70 years old, but its systems were updated and maintained in a fashion that one would expect of Procter & Gamble," Pellington said. "The guts of the plant are in great shape."

Pub Date: 12/05/96

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