Towson firm intends to buy 3M property in Westminster; Development company weighs plans for site


A real-estate development firm with projects throughout metropolitan Baltimore plans to buy the former 3M plant on Route 140 in Westminster, according to a vice president of the Towson-based company.

"We have a contract to purchase," said David M. Strouse, vice president for acquisitions of Continental Realty Corp. He expects the sale to close in early December.

Continental hopes to develop the industrially zoned site, but its plans aren't definite, he said.

"It's for our own use. We're just sitting down looking at our options," Strouse said.

Continental tends to be "developers, investors, owners for the long term," he said.

The 26-acre 3M property lies in the county but is served by Westminster water and sewer. A 70,000-square-foot building sits near the main road, and 3M also owns the land behind it, said Strouse, who declined to give the price until after the deal is closed.

Two years ago, 3M -- the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. of St. Paul -- announced the closing of the Westminster plant, which had begun a shift from mainly making vinyl signs to manufacturing billboards. The closing resulted from 3M's sale of its National Advertising Co., which was founded in Westminster in 1928 and sold to 3M in 1947.

Continental projects have included apartments, strip shopping centers, and industrial and office parks. Among them, Strouse said, are the Wicomico Industrial Center in Baltimore, which has been sold; apartment complexes in Brooklyn and Annapolis; the Chartley Shopping Center in Reisterstown; the Piney Orchard Village shopping center in Odenton; Park Plaza in Severna Park; a large warehouse in Lanham, Prince George's County; and the $70 million, 40-acre Blakehurst retirement community in Towson, in partnership with another firm.

In all, Continental has about 3 million square feet of industrial, office and retail space, about 4,500 apartment units and about 50 acres of undeveloped land, he said.

It also owns a Burger King franchise with locations from White Marsh to Columbia, although not the Westminster restaurant, Strouse said. Continental owned the JF Theater chain, at one point controlling 66 screens, before selling it 11 years ago to a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, now part of Sony Corp.

It opened a division in Florida about 3 1/2 years ago to acquire and operate shopping centers, he said.

The 3M property isn't the corporation's first venture into Carroll County, Strouse said. It is handling the leasing for the new College Square center in Westminster although it doesn't own the property, and it expects to have another Westminster-area property under contract soon.

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