Anne Arundel site to get worldwide research center Millennium Inorganic will shift city jobs

May 06, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

A Hunt Valley-based chemical company intends to establish a worldwide research and development center in Anne Arundel County and create or move as many as 200 scientific jobs to the new facility.

But Millennium Inorganic Chemicals' planned research center will cause eventual job reductions at its Hawkins Point manufacturing plant in Baltimore, where the world's second largest maker of titanium dioxide has run out of space. Millennium, which currently employs 600 at that 160-acre plant, intends to shift roughly 100 jobs to the research center.

"We're going to make it a world-class facility," Millennium spokesman Louis Kistner said of the planned Glen Burnie facility. "But after considerable study, we recognized that we would have to make substantial changes, and we just couldn't make the adjustments."

Millennium plans by November 1999 to establish the technical center within a vacant single-story warehouse building in the Baymeadow Industrial Park, a structure that had been North American Beauty Supply Co.'s headquarters and distribution center before the company abruptly shut its doors in 1996 as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. Millennium plans to acquire the 6752 Baymeadow Drive property for $3.5 million from North American Beauty Supply's former owners by the end of the month, and invest another $15 million to convert the building into laboratory and research space.

"Obviously the company wants to get up and running as quickly as possible, and they saved a lot of time buying an existing building rather than developing one," said T. Courtenay Jenkins III, a partner in real estate firm Casey & Associates Inc., which represented Millennium.

County officials sealed Millennium's decision to create the center in Anne Arundel on Monday, when they approved a parking variance the company requested. Without the variance, Millennium would have had to double the number of spaces contained at the 120,000-square-foot facility.

Millennium, which was spun off from British parent Hanson PLC in October 1996, generates nearly $850 million a year in annual sales. Its Hawkins Point facility -- which has been expanded twice since the 1950s -- makes more than 105,000 tons of titanium dioxide, a pigment used in paint, rubber and plastic, each year. The company also has manufacturing operations in England, Australia, France and Ohio.

Millennium's pending move also represents the latest reversal of fortune for the Glen Burnie area, which had been stung two years ago by hundreds of job losses at Martin Marietta Corp. and North American Beauty Supply.

"It was a difficult building to sell because it really was designed for a single tenant and there's not a lot of flexibility there," said Jim Lighthizer, a CB Commercial Real Estate Group vice president who represented the building's owners. "But the area as a whole is really changing, moving from pure distribution to more high-tech and office uses."

The former SCM Chemical Co. plans to hire roughly 60 new employees -- primarily scientists and lab technicians -- during the next five years, Kistner said.

"It's a real winner for us," said Bill Badger, senior vice president of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. "And part of the remarkable transformation at Baymeadow, which at one time was almost a ghost town. Today, and with Millennium, the park is virtually full."

In addition to Millennium, the park has gained businesses such as Games Workshop, Harte-Hanks Corp. and Hoover Containment Co., Badger said.

Pub Date: 5/06/98

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