The Warfield Project, a long-planned business and technology park in South Carroll, has signed a national company with headquarters in Eldersburg as its first tenant. Nexion Health Inc. officials said the company will spend more than $2 million to renovate its new offices in one of the former state hospital buildings once known as the Warfield Complex.
The company, which operates 40 nursing facilities in three states and employs about 6,000 workers, signed a long-term lease late last week for one of the dozen century-old structures that were once Springfield Hospital wards.
Nexion officials said they plan to convert the building into the company's central office with space for more than 50 employees and room to expand.
"We see this as a cornerstone opportunity for our company and for the Warfield Project that will become the hottest property in the area within the next few years," said Francis B. Kirley, who founded Nexion about five years ago in partnership with Bret Bolt.
The state made Warfield's vacant brick buildings available for development nearly nine years ago. The town of Sykesville annexed the property, created a plan for its future and entered into a development partnership with Carroll County and the state. The town, through its Warfield Development Corp., is now marketing the 96-acre property along Route 32.
Kirley, who toured every building in the complex, expects to begin extensive renovation of the 16,000-square-foot building at the entrance to Warfield by March and to relocate his offices there by year's end, he said.
"I have the nicest building on the campus," Kirley said. "You can see it from the highway, and its shape will allow for open office spaces."
For the town, this first lease is the culmination of years of planning and trying to convince others of the property's potential.
"To bring in a business like Nexion means that our vision has struck a chord with the corporate world," said Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "This is a real business, not some strip shopping center."
Since Warfield is on the National Register of Historic Places, renovation work is eligible for federal tax credits, which in Kirley's case could be as much as $400,000, said Jay French, a development consultant working with the town.
"The renovation will make a 105-year-old building look new," French said.
The town, county and state partnership will help realize Warfield's boon to economic development. It carries the promise of more than 1,000 white-collar jobs and much-needed industry for Carroll County.
About 170,000 square feet is 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.