County, town to market Warfield

Renovated space viewed for offices, biotech firms

`We are in a good position'

May 30, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

With renovated space at the Warfield Complex in Sykesville expected to be ready for lease within a year, Carroll County and the town will work together to market the century-old buildings as a business and employment campus.

"We are really looking forward to this partnership," said John T. "Jack" Lyburn Jr., county economic development director. "Warfield should not be difficult to market, given its closeness to Interstate 70 and the number of people interested in it."

Lyburn met with Jay T. French, a development consultant, and Matthew H. Candland, town manager, yesterday to discuss plans for attracting tenants to what will eventually be a multimillion-dollar project with about 300,000 square feet of renovated space.

Warfield's 13 stately brick buildings are clustered and ideally suited for offices and biotech companies, Lyburn said.

"In my mind, this partnership started long ago and helping us with marketing is just a continuation," said French, who is working with the town on the project. "We are in a good position, and we are all working for the same thing."

Town officials are uncertain which building they will restore first. The Lane Building, the 14th and newest structure in the group, is slightly removed from the others in the complex but could be the easiest to market, given its location along Route 32.

The complex also will benefit from infrastructure improvements the state is making as it finishes the final phase of the Police Training Center on land adjacent to Warfield.

"Warfield has a fair amount of existing infrastructure, and the buildings are rock-solid," said French. "This is a great asset to be working with. I feel certain we can have one or two of the buildings ready for tenants next summer."

Lyburn said he is confident he can find those tenants even in today's competitive market.

"We had interest, but until now we have not had a product to show people," Lyburn said. "We have Warfield in our marketing budget for next year, and it will appear in our marketing brochures. We will be ready to go with this campaign by fall."

Marketing typically should begin about nine months before the space is available, Lyburn said.

"We will be taking directions from the town as far as site locators and other prospects go," he said. "We definitely can see the light at the end of the tunnel now."

French said the possibilities are infinite for Warfield.

"Our mission is to look over a whole field of possible uses," said French. "Not everything is going to fit, but Warfield has great advantages."

The town annexed the 96-acre property three years ago and has been planning its future with architects, engineers and financial consultants ever since.

The state officially deeded Warfield, once part of the state's Springfield Hospital Center, to the town a year ago and has awarded Sykesville about $400,000 to begin the restoration work. A partnership that includes the state, county and town will share profits from the leases.

The development plan also calls for several new buildings, including an 80-room hotel, as project proceeds.

Once it is fully leased, Warfield, which is expected to cost as much as $20 million, carries the promise of about 1,200 jobs. Results from a soon-to-be-released labor study, commissioned by the county, show about 62 percent of Carroll's labor force commutes to jobs outside the county.

"Of that number, more than 45 percent said they would work here if they could find good jobs," Lyburn said.

The county also has pledged $300,000 to Warfield. Lyburn issued the first reimbursement check for $6,501 this week for preliminary engineering and design work. The money was drawn from the economic development trust fund used for infrastructure.

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