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Canton Crossing site sold to BCP Investors

A 31-acre parcel on the waterfront in Canton once owned by beleaguered First Mariner Bancorp CEO Edwin F. Hale Sr. was sold Tuesday to a group of local developers who plan to break ground for a 275,000-square-foot retail plaza next year.

The property was purchased from Exxon Mobil by BCP Investors LLC, a newly formed partnership that includes principals from Chesapeake Real Estate Group and Birchwood Capital Partners. It had been the site of an oil terminal owned by Exxon Mobil since the 1890s and is located on Boston Street, less than a mile from Interstate 95.

Officials of BCP Investors declined Tuesday to disclose the purchase price.

Hale assigned his interest in the property to BCP Investors and was given a portion of the sales price that he declined to reveal on Tuesday.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in two phases, officials of BCP Investors said. A second phase, to include a 100,000-square-foot development, will commence once Exxon has fully moved its operations from the eastern part of the site.

Since 2001, the Maryland Department of the Environment has overseen a cleanup at the 130-acre site, removing more than 3 million gallons of petroleum products, which had contaminated soil and ground water there.

Hale, who developed the 17-story First Mariner Tower adjacent to the parcel, had hoped to add a retail center at the site. But the economic downturn affected those plans — and Hale’s ownership of the tower and his leadership of the bank as well.

In May, with federal regulators baying at the door, Hale said he would vacate his post as CEO as part of a deal with the Priam Capital Fund of New York. Priam announced it would infuse $36.4 million into the struggling bank and bring in new leadership contingent on the bank raising another $123 million from other sources.

In 2009, Hale sold the tower at a loss, leading to speculation about what would happen to plans to develop Canton Crossing as a retail center.

Residents of Canton have long complained about the lack of retail in their community. Possible tenants in the new development include a large grocery chain and a large discount mega-store. But Neil Tucker, of Chesapeake Real Estate Group, said Tuesday that while the developers were in negotiations, they would not reveal potential tenants.

“We have met with several retailers who have expressed interest,” Tucker said. “But until we have a signed deal, we will not say who those retailers are.”

BCP Investors includes Doug Schmidt and Tucker, of Chesapeake, and David Strouse of Birchwood Capital Partners. Doug Kaufman of Grubb & Ellis represented BCP in this transaction.

Chesapeake Real Estate Group will handle the leasing for the project.

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