Michelin Northamerica confirmed Friday that it will move a major distribution operation from Howard County to a 252,000-square-foot warehouse in Riverside Business Park in Belcamp.
The French tire maker, whose U.S. headquarters is in Greenville, S.C., is expected to move into the business park within 30 days, said James Fielder, Harford County's economic development director.
"This is definitely good for the county," said Mr. Fielder. "Any time you fill a building that's been unoccupied a long time and bring some new jobs to the county, it's good."
Michelin will sublease the building from Pier One Imports, which built a 633,000-square-foot warehouse in Aberdeen and moved there more than two years ago.
The Riverside building, which Pier One rents under a 15-year lease from the James F. Knott Development Corp. of Towson, has remained vacant since that move.
Art Griffiths, vice president of real estate for Pier One in Fort Worth, Texas, said that Michelin has agreed to sublease the building for the remainder of the lease, which expires in 2001.
Mr. Fielder said Michelin's move from Howard County could mean 15 to 20 jobs in Harford County, but Michelin spokeswoman Athene Karis said most of the 15 workers employed at the warehouse in the Meadowridge Business Center in Elkridge would move with their jobs.
Mr. Fielder said the county did not offer any incentive to the tire company, but is pleased to see the building being occupied after a long vacancy.
He said the building has been difficult to market because of its large size and the complications of the lease.
Mr. Griffiths blames a slow economy for the long delay. He said the market was healthy when Pier One decided to expand, "but timing couldn't have been worse when we finally moved."
Pier One used the warehouse as overflow space after its move, but there have been no other tenants in the building, he said.
Michelin plans to make some alterations to the lighting and existing storage units inside, but no major work on the building is required and the warehouse should be in operation by the end of the month, Mr. Fielder said.