Baltimore Business Journal: Owings Mills Solo Cup Plant on the Market
The Solo Cup Company has tapped Towson brokerage KLNB Retail to help sell its sprawling manufacturing plant in Owings Mills, potentially clearing the way for a mega-retail center or office complex along the busy Reisterstown Road corridor.
The Lake Forest, Ill., maker of disposable cups plans to shut down the 52-acre plant at Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill Road as early as July, laying off hundreds of employees there months ahead of schedule. The company said in June it planned to close the Baltimore County plant in early 2012. At the time, the plant employed 540 workers. But Solo Cup spokeswoman Angie Chaplin Gorman said its consolidation plans are moving quicker than expected.
Solo Cup also plans to close two other sites across the U.S. to cut costs, affecting about 1,240 workers.
Developers across Greater Baltimore, including David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd., have expressed an interest in buying and redeveloping the 1.7 million-square-foot facility, which could fetch in excess of $20 million. But its new owners will need Baltimore County Council to change the plant’s zoning to allow for new retail stores or offices.
Meanwhile, business owners in Owings Mills are keeping a close eye on the site and hoping it will not become another vacant industrial plant left to rust and rot.
“The Solo Cup site is one of the more pristine locations on Reisterstown Road,” said Erik Wexler, president of Northwest Hospital and head of the Owings Mills Roundtable of area business executives. “Any vacant site in a commercial area like that is more than an eyesore; it tamps down future economic activity.”
Wexler said business owners in the area are hoping the site will be turned into a shopping mall or medical offices that will help draw jobs into the area, replacing the void Solo Cup will create when it powers down the property. But how to repackage the site will depend on a number of factors, some of them out of the new owner’s control.
KLNB broker J. Lawrence Mekulski, who has represented companies like Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Sears, is marketing the Solo Cup property for sale. Mekulski said he has received enough interest from prospective buyers to recommend Solo Cup sell. Among them is David S. Brown Enterprises, a Baltimore County developer that is also behind a multimillion-dollar redevelopment of the Owings Mills Metro Station, Mekulski said. Representatives from David S. Brown could not be reached for comment.
But Mekulski noted it will be Solo Cup’s decision whether to part with the site or wait until a stronger economic rebound. He has not received any interest yet from other manufacturers.
Mekulski did not disclose how much Solo Cup is seeking for the property, which is assessed at about $25 million, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Retail broker Rene Daniel, of Trout Daniel & Associates in Timonium, said the Solo Cup plant is one of the best potential redevelopment sites in the Owings Mills area. It is large enough to meet the space needs of big-box retailers like Costco, and thousands of cars a day pass by the property along Reisterstown Road.
But Daniel said there are a number of vacant retail stores along the Owings Mills area, and retail companies might be reluctant to open up yet another store in an area with so many empty storefronts. The vacancy rate along the Reisterstown Road corridor is nearly 7 percent, according to MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC. That compares to just under 6 percent for the York Road corridor and nearly 5 percent in western Baltimore County. The region’s retail market as a whole is just under 6 percent.
“It’s a wonderful piece of ground. I think it’s a terrific location,” Daniel said. “But I think it’s going to be a difficult location to get going because there’s a lot of other empty real estate on the market.”
Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond said the Solo Cup site’s redevelopment should tie in with David S. Brown’s Metro Center at Owings Mills development and efforts by General Growth Properties to revitalize the Owings Mills Mall, where vacancies have grown. The properties could be marketed to prospective tenants in concert, or they could compete with each other and make it hard for either owner to fill up their properties.
The Solo Cup site is zoned for industrial uses, however, and Almond said it will need to be rezoned to allow for retailers. That would not be allowed to happen until 2012, the next time the county plans to update its zoning code. But she noted the property could also be redeveloped under the county’s planned unit development program, which allows developers to include a variety of different zoning.
“The Solo Cup site has the potential to be the gateway into Owings Mills,” she said. “We need to be really attracting the right kinds of business.”
Published on: April 22, 2010
By Alexander Jackson