"The best. The last. The ultimate. One-of-a-kind."
Developers, politicians and economic development officials use these phrases liberally when talking about Baltimore Crossroads @95 - a project slated to turn 1,000 acres of unused land between Middle River and White Marsh into a major business center with offices, distribution, light manufacturing and some retail space.
In the development community, the land is viewed as "the best opportunity along the East Coast," said David Iannucci, economic development director for Baltimore County.
Such optimism may seem odd for a property on the county's aging east side. It is a swath of land on the radar screen of developers for the past two decades. One wanted to build a NASCAR track. Another had an idea for an Asia-inspired theme park.
Nothing ever happened. Now, however, a new $65 million highway, an extension of Md. 43, is well under way. The first phase is expected to open soon.
And that makes the prospects for Baltimore Crossroads @95 much better than previous ideas. The development team has a record of success. Somerset Construction Co. of Bethesda was chosen to lead the project by the land owner, the A. V. Williams Trust.
Somerset then brought Edward St. John's MIE Properties Inc. and First Industrial Realty Trust on board to develop portions of the project. The plan calls for 2.5 million square feet of flex/office space, 2.5 million of industrial/manufacturing space and 500,000 square feet of retail.
The County hopes the park will generate 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs.
Mike Caruthers, president of Somerset Construction, said that number is not overly optimistic. "It's hard to find 1,000 acres of raw land," he said. "And we have it here."
Caruthers said one prospective, major biotech tenant has whittled its choices from 137 sites down to three - and one of them is Baltimore Crossroads @95.
"It is the last prize remaining" in the region, said Gerard J. Witt, a vice president at MIE Properties. "And everyone knows it."
SPOTLIGHT ON: Baltimore Crossroads @95
Location: MD. 43 and Interstate 95, Baltimore County
Developers: Somerset Construction Co. (lead), MIE Properties, First Industrial Realty Trust
Projected cost: Total undetermined
Projected completion: 20-year buildout