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New owners plan mixed-use at failed White Marsh retail site

Jim Lighthizer

Jim Lighthizer

A new owner has purchased the 52-acre parcel of land in White Marsh that was once slated to become an outlet shopping center and intends to build a mixed-use business park.

A joint venture between Atapco Properties and Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC has purchased the property at the intersection of Route 43 and Interstate 95. The developers have not completed concept plans, according to a statement released by the firms, but uses may include industrial, retail and office space.

“This site is shovel-ready and we intend to leverage the existing pent-up demand for strategically-located office/warehouse and e-commerce space along the Interstate 95 corridor,” said Jim Lighthizer, founder and owner of Chesapeake Real Estate Group. “Few sites in the mid-Atlantic region can match this project’s outstanding highway visibility and access from Interstate 95, proximity to several ports including Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington and access to nearly one-third of the United States population within a one-day truck drive. We have recently begun marketing the site to end-users and it is being extremely well-received.”

Atapco Properties and Chesapeake Real Estate Group have previously partnered on projects including Patuxent Range Road in the Baltimore Washington Industrial Park and the Antrim Commons Business Park in Pennsylvania.

The 52-acre parcel of land in White Marsh, highlighted in yellow, will become a mixed-use business park under a joint venture between Atapco Properties and Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC. (Courtesy Lawrence Howard & Associates)

The 52-acre parcel of land in White Marsh, highlighted in yellow, will become a mixed-use business park under a joint venture between Atapco Properties and Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC. (Courtesy Lawrence Howard & Associates)

The White Marsh site formerly was set to become a 525,000-square-foot retail center, but the developer, Paragon Partners (a subsidiary of New York-based Lightstone Group) closed early last year without beginning work on the project.

Paragon Partners’ proposed development ran into pushback from community members worried about potential environmental impacts. Nearby White Marsh Mall and The Avenue shopping center, concerned about increased competition in the area, also fought the development.

County voters, in a 2016 referendum, ultimately backed the rezoning to allow the development.  But the delay essentially killed the project, and Lightstone Group began listening to offers for the property.

White Marsh is one of Baltimore County’s designated growth areas and has attracted substantial development activity in recent years including new retail development, such as the 17-acre Nottingham Ridge development on Philadelphia Road near the White Marsh Boulevard interchange with I-95.

The retail market in the White Marsh area, according to a report released Monday by MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC, has been one of the strongest performers in the Baltimore metro area. It’s retail vacancy rate of 2.8 percent is the third-lowest in the region and more than 13,000 square feet of positive absorption year to dates. The current average asking rental rate is $19.38-per-square-foot compared to $17.11-per-square-foot a year ago.

The largest development in the area is St. John Properties Greenleigh at Crossroads on Route 43 between Route 40 and Eastern Boulevard.  That project has attracted notable leases from firms, such as Stanley Black and Decker, which announced plans earlier this year to expand by 92,000 square feet at the project.

At full build-out, Greenleigh at Crossroads will include 1,000 single-family homes and townhomes; 500 apartments; 300,000 square feet of mid-rise Class A office space; and 188,000 square feet of retail. Greenleigh at Crossroads will also include 827,000 square feet of flex/research and development space, 443,000 square feet of single-story office space and a 120-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

Live, work, and play developments in Baltimore’s suburbs represent a significant portion of the office development in the metro area. A report by CBRE on the Baltimore region’s office market performance in the second quarter found projects in White Marsh, Towson and Columbia represent 20 percent of the Class A office market pipeline.

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