Guilford to build at Holabird Firm plans research facility at industrial park near headquarters

$19 million project

Company expects to double number of workers by 2004

Commercial real estate

January 14, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

In a move likely to solidify its place as one of the city's fastest-growing biotechnology companies, Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. plans to develop a $19 million research facility in the Holabird Industrial Park beginning in April.

The plans for the new three-story building come as the Baltimore-based bio-pharmaceuticals company projects doubling its number of employees by 2004, based on current growth levels, product development and anticipated research needs.

Guilford employs 191 in the 88,000-square-foot headquarters/research laboratory it leases at 6611 Tributary St. Since 1993, Guilford has invested $20 million to upgrade the Riparius Development Corp. building.

"We're completely full at our current facility," said Guilford Senior Vice President of Operations John P. Brennan. "When we did a five-year business plan at the end of 1996, we quickly realized we needed additional research and development space."

The 4-year-old company chose Holabird for the expansion in part because the 73,000-square-foot project will be next door to its current facility, Brennan said. The new building is scheduled for completion in April 1999.

"We wanted to find something as close as possible to Tributary Street so that we could embrace and grow the culture that we have here and share research," Brennan said.

For the city, Guilford's expansion comes as economic development officials are intensifying marketing efforts aimed at selling Baltimore as a biotechnology hub.

To underscore the importance of the project, the Baltimore Development Corp. has offered Guilford a $750,000, low-interest loan.

At least a portion of the 10-year, 2 percent interest loan would likely be forgiven if Guilford meets job growth targets and hires a percentage of city residents, city officials said.

"We believe Guilford to be one of the world-class companies of the future," said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, BDC's president. "Their potential is huge. So it's a good investment from our point of view, and as the company continues to grow, it's awfully important that they remain in the city."

Guilford's facility, the land sale for which is slated to be completed next month, represents the second major project for the 170-acre Holabird in the past several months. In late October, Adcor Industries purchased 5.5 acres in the business park, which the city bought from the Army in 1977.

Adcor, which expects to hire 180 over the next five years in Baltimore, intends to use the land to develop a new 60,000-square-foot facility for an aerospace parts manufacturing subsidiary.

But Guilford's growth in Holabird could be far more expansive.

The company, flush with $65 million in proceeds from an April stock offering, has agreements for product research with California biotech giant Amgen Inc. that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for development of compounds that fight brain maladies such as Parkinson's disease. City officials are hoping the research also creates dozens of additional jobs.

"As the company continues to grow and develop new products, we realize we need additional resources to accomplish our goals, both scientific personnel and physical resources," said Andrea Scibelli, a Guilford spokeswoman. "And we'd like to give people more space to do their research, because research is the heart and soul of this company."

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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