Fila USA will build a 300,000-square-foot warehouse in Anne Arundel County that eventually will create up to 150 new jobs, Fila and the company that is selling the land for the new project announced yesterday.
The fast-growing footwear and clothing company, which has boosted its U.S. sales more than 800 percent in the last five years, said the new warehouse will be at the Brandon Woods Industrial Park developed by Constellation Real Estate Inc., a unit of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
"The new warehouse is for our activewear business, which is just exploding," said Howe Burch, a Fila vice president. The company expects to sell $125 million worth of apparel in the United States this year, up from about $65 million last year, he said.
The biggest part of Fila's activewear business is related to fitness, tennis and basketball clothing. But the company also has been expanding its golf lines, and this fall launched its FilaSport line of higher-end casual clothing designed to compete with nonathletic clothing labels such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. It also launched a new line of outdoor and winter gear.
Constellation will sell the 15-acre parcel to a partnership related to Fila's real estate adviser, Baltimore-based Belt's Corp., which will develop the warehouse and lease it to Fila. The price for the land was slightly more than $1.5 million, Constellation vice president Dwight S. Taylor said.
The sale marks a change of plans for Constellation, which announced in January that it would build a speculative warehouse at the site, a sign of confidence in the industrial real estate market, which has been one of the strongest sectors of the commercial real estate business as it slowly emerges from its near-depression in the early 1990s.
None of the parties would say how much Fila's overall project will cost, but Constellation said in January that its speculative project would cost about $10.5 million. Fila's building will be about 20 percent bigger than what Constellation planned, and it is slated to open by December 1996.
The company's move will not affect its existing warehouse in Baltimore, which distributes footwear and was expanded earlier this year, or its recent purchase of the Farm Credit Bank building in Sparks, which is to become Fila's U.S. headquarters. Mr. Burch said the company now distributes most of its apparel out of a center in California, which will remain open.
The company is controlled by Fila Holding S.p.A., based in Biella, Italy.
The selection of the Anne Arundel site was the culmination of a search that lasted about a year, Belt's vice president David Baird said. He said the firm looked at alternatives in counties throughout metropolitan Baltimore, including the city, but did not look in Pennsylvania, which has competed with Baltimore-area jurisdictions for major warehouse projects.
Mr. Taylor and Mr. Burch said a major reason Fila did not locate in the city was its inability to find a piece of available land large enough to accommodate the new facility. Mr. Baird said that the difficulty in finding a city location was an issue but that it was not the entire reason Constellation won the deal.
Bill Badger, site location consultant for the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., said the county offered Fila a low-interest $250,000 loan, help in getting "incentive" utility rates that Baltimore Gas and Electric offers qualifying companies that expand in or relocate to Maryland, and help with expediting construction permits.
Chuck Porcari, a spokesman for Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development, said the state also plans to offer Fila sweeteners in exchange for keeping its growth in the state.
Mr. Porcari said the state deal has not yet been completed, but Mr. Badger said it is expected to be a loan that can be converted to a grant if Fila attains negotiated goals for employment and other criteria.
The deal is the second major development deal of the year for Constellation's Brandon Woods development and one of the largest industrial deals of 1995 in the Baltimore area.
The local vacancy rate for warehouse space has fallen to 11.9 percent, according to a report earlier this month by the Baltimore real estate brokerage Colliers Pinkard. Large modern warehouses are increasingly scarce, which has forced big clients to build their own facilities rather than rent existing buildings.
Users such as McCormick & Co. Inc., Saks Fifth Avenue, Michel Warehousing Co. and the National Security Agency opted this year to build new projects.