Job growth in Woodlawn lauded Revitalization effort has attracted investment

February 14, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

A New York real estate company and a government push to revitalize southwestern Baltimore County are being credited with millions of dollars of investment and with eventually bringing more than 1,000 new jobs to the Woodlawn area.

"This area was on the bubble," County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger said yesterday at a luncheon with Woodlawn business leaders at the new SuperFresh mid-Atlantic headquarters in the Meadows Business Park. "But because you all decided to commit to this area we can talk about growth now."

SuperFresh moved its regional headquarters from South Baltimore to Woodlawn three months ago, bringing 150 employees to a formerly vacant building.

Ruppersberger toured the headquarters yesterday, greeting workers and listening while SuperFresh Controller David J. Goggin III explained the operation.

The executive also visited United Book Press Inc., a book manufacturer that expanded into a 35,000-square-foot building and added 50 jobs; Maryland Office Interiors Inc., a furniture supplier that recently moved into a 45,000-square-foot building near its former building and plans to hire 20 more employees; and Creditrust Corp., a purchaser and liquidator of credit card accounts that moved from Columbia in 1996 has leased 52,000 square feet and plans to add 780 employees by year's end.

Other companies that recently expanded or moved into the area are APAC TeleServices Inc., a telecommunications company; Bay Area Health Care, a home-care agency; Maryland Health Network, a health-care provider; TeleSpectrum, an Annapolis telecommunications business that opened a facility in Woodlawn; and Skills Bank Corp., which develops education software.

United Healthcare Corp., a managed-care company, is expected sign a lease soon for a portion of a 120,000-square foot building on Security Boulevard, consolidating operations,

The recent flurry of leasing heartens county officials, who have targeted the area for revitalization. The area suffers from aging housing and lower incomes than the rest of the county.

A number of businesses have closed, including the Stroh Brewing Co. plant in Halethorpe, which shut down in December, eliminating more than 400 jobs.

When the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration moved into its new Woodlawn headquarters in 1995, it left nearly 400,000 square feet of office space vacant in the area.

Much of the new business activity results from to the aggressive leasing efforts of Emmes Realty Co., a New York company that purchased 21 buildings totaling more than a million square feet in the Meadows Business Park in October 1994. Since then, the company has renovated properties and leased about 70 percent of its space, said John Graham, its leasing director.

Graham said Emmes saw the chance to buy a large block of buildings in an aging commercial district, fix them up and lease them to expanding businesses wanting to be near good roads xTC and workers.

The new SuperFresh headquarters, for example, is in a 30-year-old building that had been vacant for five years. The roof leaked, and the building didn't meet fire safety standards. During a snowstorm last year, part of the front of the structure collapsed.

Emmes tore out the inside of the 50,000-square-foot building and offered it to SuperFresh.

Government efforts include an enterprise zone in the Halethorpe area that gives tax breaks to businesses in the zone that expand or hire.

Pub Date: 2/14/97

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