Woodies to rent city warehouse

August 05, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

Woodward & Lothrop Inc. has agreed to move its distribution center supporting 35 department stores to the Zamoiski Co. warehouse in South Baltimore, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday.

The deal is expected to mark a $10 million investment in the city and create at least 200 jobs.

The center will consolidate facilities now located in Washington, Belmar, N.J., and at least one other location. The department store chain will lease 295,000 square feet of warehouse space for five years beginning this fall, with an option to renew for another five years.

"This is going to mean a lot of jobs and really help us a lot," Mayor Schmoke said.

"Conservatively, 200 jobs," said Robert Oare, a broker for Manekin Corp. of Columbia, who represented the landlord in the deal. "Woodies is investing several million dollars beyond their lease" to install more sophisticated racking systems and mezzanine floors that could double the capacity of the eight-year-old warehouse, he said.

The building, at 3000 Waterview Ave., has been occupied by the Zamoiski Co., an umbrella for several companies run by the family of prominent local businessman Calman "Buddy" Zamoiski. The companies are wholesale distributors of products including lawnmowers, appliances and flooring products.

Mr. Oare said the Zamoiski Co. expects to keep its corporate headquarters in the office portion of the 340,000-square-foot complex. He said the company is not yet ready to announce where it will put its own distribution center.

Woodies will use the facility to support both its Woodward & Lothrop and its John Wanamaker department store chains. Woodies is a 19-store Washington-based chain with local stores in Annapolis, White Marsh and Columbia. John Wanamaker serves the Philadelphia area.

Woodward & Lothrop Inc. filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in New York in January. Mr. Oare said the judge supervising Woodies' reorganization approved the lease sometime in the last week.

"They're in relatively good financial condition," Mr. Oare said. "Zamoiski looked very carefully at the financial condition of Woodward & Lothrop and they're satisfied they'll be paying the rent on this lease."

Woodies executives could not be reached late yesterday.

Mayor Schmoke's spokesman, Clinton R. Coleman, said he wasn't aware of any city incentives offered to Woodies. The mayor said the agreement called for the deferment of some payments the Zamoiski Co. was scheduled to make to the city under an agreement reached before the warehouse was built.

Mr. Coleman referred detailed questions to the city's legal department.

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