Pompeian Inc., the largest and oldest importer, bottler and distributor of olive oil in the country, is expanding its East Baltimore plant to handle a demand for its product that has tripled in six years.
Work has already begun on the $2 million expansion of the company's building in the 4200 block of Pulaski Highway, where the company has operated since 1906, company officials said.
The expansion, which is being handled by Baltimore general contractor Image Construction Group, will add about 42,290 square feet to the company's existing 98,600 square feet of space.
Most of the new space will be devoted to increasing the company's warehousing capabilities and docking space, although about 8,270 square feet will house its administrative offices.
Construction is scheduled for completion in May 1992.
In addition to the expansion project, the company recently added eight giant, underground storage tanks to the 16 it already had.
The added tanks, approximately 110 feet long and 9 feet wide, will go into operation in several weeks, officials said. The tanks will allow the firm to store an additional 500 metric tons of virgin olive oil.
Soon, said Pompeian spokeswoman Gwynn Willis, "we'll be sitting very pretty on 3,700 tons of virgin oil."
The added capacity means Pompeian will be able to purchase and store additional prime lots of top-quality oil to better meet consumer demand, officials said.
The demand for olive oil has grown internationally due in part to a greater emphasis on health foods. Olive oil contains no cholesterol.
Pompeian's new building, designed by the architectural firm KIIK Associates of Baltimore, will be attached to the front of the existing structure.
Gone will be the company's distinctive Mediterranean-style facade of tan stucco and terra cotta tile roofing. That facade was added in 1975, shortly after the company was purchased from its original owners, the Hoffberger family, by Hispanoliva, an olive oil cooperative based in Cordoba, Spain.
Instead, the new facade will incorporate a contemporary masonry design with a more durable, stucco-like material that goes by the brand name Dry-Vit.
Company officials said the up-to-date design was adopted in order to blend with other industrial buildings in the area.