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Landscaping company to move regional office, 80 jobs to city; Estimates board asked to sell TruGreen 6 acres


A national landscaping company with a regional office in Baltimore County plans to move into the city's Seton Business Park, bringing 80 jobs.

Baltimore Development Corp. officials announced the proposal by TruGreen Limited Partnership of White Marsh at yesterday's Board of Estimates meeting. The five-member spending panel is being asked to sell TruGreen a 6-acre city tract in the business park at 6020 Marian Drive as part of the agreement.

Under the plan, the city would sell the land for $225,000, or $37,500 an acre, discounted from its appraised value of $50,000 per acre. In addition, TruGreen -- a Fortune 500 company -- would pay $400,000 to rid the site of underground storage tanks, BDC officials said.

City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, however, asked that the sale be delayed a week to ensure that the city is getting the best price possible for the land. Pratt expressed concern that the property appraisal is two years old and that land prices might have risen since then.

Pratt aides contend that land in the area is selling for $60,000 to $70,000 an acre, which would increase the discount to TruGreen. BDC officials see the agreement as a way for the city to attract jobs to Baltimore.

In addition to the 80 jobs TruGreen would bring from the county, the company anticipates creating 30 jobs within 18 months of opening. The company has agreed to give hiring preference to city residents. TruGreen will construct a 5,000-square-foot building on the property in addition to a 70-space parking lot, a project estimated at $1.6 million.

Mayor Martin O'Malley made a motion to delay the sale to give the BDC a week to address Pratt's concerns.

In other action, the estimates board delayed approving $47,600 in additional work orders for Phipps Construction Contractors Inc. The city hired Phipps last year to demolish an industrial building at Central Avenue and Bank Street for a city parking lot.

The initial $427,025 city contract has risen to $1 million. The contractors attribute the increase to unforeseen obstacles found in clearing the property and the need to remove barrels of hazardous waste from the site.

At the request of Little Italy activist Roberto Marsili, O'Malley joined City Council President Sheila Dixon in asking city Public Works Director George Winfield to review the project and contract before making additional city payments.

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