Ideas sought on new name for old GM site

March 02, 2007|By Allison Connolly | Allison Connolly,Sun reporter

Calling it the "old GM plant" is a reminder of bad times, so the developer building a huge industrial park on Broening Highway wants residents and groups in East Baltimore and Dundalk to supply a name befitting the site's brighter future.

John H. Macsherry Jr., vice president of development and leasing at Duke Realty Corp., which bought the property a year ago, hopes the park's name will become as well-known as Camden Yards - even without baseball.

"This site has a lot of history in this community," Macsherry said. "We really wanted to get the community involved in the project."

The name will be unveiled at a community event next month.

Demolition is expected to wrap up by the end of this month. The site housed the former van assembly plant, which closed in May 2005 after years of sluggish sales. Groundbreaking for the industrial park is expected in June or July.

The plant employed generations of workers, and the site's redevelopment means a lot to the community, said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of Baltimore Development Corp. They were pleased that Duke kept the water tank with the GM logo on it, he said. And the naming contest is just one more way Duke is involving the community in the site's future, Brodie said.

"It's a very thoughtful way to do business," he said.

Duke plans two buildings on the 184-acre site. A 342,000-square- foot distribution center will have loading docks on each side. The second will be a 118,000-square- foot building with offices in the front and loading docks in the back. The project's cost is estimated at $150 million.

The city will pave roads and sidewalks, and the site will be landscaped to look like nearby Holabird Industrial Park.

About 1,000 people lost their jobs when the plant closed. A small number found work at GM's Allison Transmission plant in White Marsh. Others took early retirement packages or were put in the company's job bank, which pays laid-off auto workers nearly all of their wages and benefits while they attend school or volunteer full-time.

Name the site

Ideas for renaming the site of the old GM plant should be sent by March 28 to Duke Realty "Partners and Neighbors," c/o Stanton Communications Inc., One North Charles St., Suite 2470, Baltimore, 21201, or by e-mail to Include your name, address and daytime telephone number. The name becomes property of Duke, and no royalties or fees will be paid to the winner.

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