The state Board of Public Works approved yesterday a $4 million low-interest loan that will pay for infrastructure and initial renovations at a long-planned business and technology park in South Carroll.
The investment, coupled with plans for an $8.6 million highway intersection leading into the campus, known as the Warfield Project, should spur interest and further investment in the project, which promises economic development for Carroll County and as many as 1,000 jobs, officials said.
The town of Sykesville, which annexed the 96-acre former Springfield Hospital Center property along Route 32 five years ago, has worked to bring the project to fruition since 1996, when the state made Warfield available for development.
"This is the capstone to eight years of work," said Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "We are coming around third and heading home. We are already off to a good start without even advertising the project."
The town can begin to restore Warfield, a cluster of a dozen century-old former hospital wards, with the low-interest loan provided by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
Sykesville has established Warfield Development Corp. to oversee the project and repay the 20-year loan as it leases space in the buildings. About 170,000 square feet are available for redevelopment, and the town is planning for 300,000 square feet of construction, including a hotel and conference center.
The project is expected to take about 10 years and cost about $20 million. The town created a master plan for the project with suggestions from county and state officials, business leaders and residents.
"This is a unique property for Carroll County and for parts of Howard County," Herman said. "It is historic, sophisticated with classical architecture. It has a layout and a master plan so that developers don't have to deal with uncertainties."
The State Highway Administration has pledged funds for a new intersection on Route 32 that will be the gateway into the complex. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.
Warfield's proximity to Interstate 70 should also make it attractive to industrial developers, officials said.
"State dollars and the new intersection will blow Warfield wide open," said Jay French, a consultant working with the town. "This is a great advertisement for Warfield."
Herman and French said they expect to sign a lease with the first tenant before the end of the year but that they could not divulge details.
"We are actually going to have a business locate at Warfield while it and the road are still under construction," Herman said.
The state loan will also help restore one of the smaller Warfield buildings into a model with office options, French said.
Warfield's closest neighbors will be a Northrop-Grumman plant and Episcopal Ministries to the Aging.