State purchase keeps 600 jobs in Baltimore

November 16, 1994|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,Sun Staff Writer

The state has completed a $5 million purchase of vacant distribution space from Montgomery Ward & Co. Inc. in southwest Baltimore, a move that will keep roughly 600 manufacturing and distribution jobs in the city and add 100 more.

PTP Industries Inc. and Medo Manufacturing Corp., a packager and air freshener maker, respectively, had considered relocating their operations to either North Carolina or Pennsylvania, before the state's involvement.

The two companies have signed lease commitments through 2009 valued in excess of $21 million as part of the state's purchase of the former distribution site.

"Keeping the jobs was really what we were working toward all

along," said Hans F. Mayer, executive director of the Maryland Economic Development Corp. (MEDCO), the state agency that bought the property. "Theirs is not a machine operation -- the things they do require lots of people."

MEDCO closed the transaction last Friday, after the sale of $8.2 million worth of industrial development bonds to Provident Bank of Maryland. A portion of the funds will be used to renovate the 635,780-square-foot site, including installing a new roof, parking and electrical and heating and air conditioning systems. Both the city and the state have guaranteed the bonds.

The renovations are necessary to convert the project to a manufacturing use, Mr. Mayer said.

PTP and Medo expect to be fully operational at the Carroll Park site in March, where they will relocate from three city and one county locations. PTP and Medo together generate more than $5 million in revenues annually and presently employ nearly 500 city residents.

Neither PTP nor Medo officials could be reached for comment.

"This transaction was driven by PTP and Medo's need to grow physically, as well as by a desire to maintain their current employee base," said Thomas C. Gentner Jr., a real estate broker, who together with Casey & Associates Inc.'s Jim Offutt, represented the two firms.

In September, the city's Planning Commission approved the Chicago-based retailer's plan to divide the warehouse space from the eight-story tower, which Montgomery Ward had used as its primary East Coast catalog operation until 1985.

"We're focusing now on some way to either sell or redevelop the remaining portion of the property," said Serena Butler, a Montgomery Ward spokeswoman.

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