Bainbridge: The new hub of progressJun 29, 2022 01:59PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
In 1999, the Bainbridge Development Corporation (BDC) was founded in order to create a strategic and sustainable plan to develop the former Bainbridge Naval Center.
Utilizing the vision of its board of directors, partnering contractors, consultants, area residents and with the help of the U.S. Navy, the BDC introduced a surefire model for the future several years ago that would create a multi-use community of commercial, office and public space that would also include as many as 1,200 housing units. It was a master plan that would bring in every component of smart-growth opportunity needed to stimulate nearby Port Deposit and all of Cecil County – jobs, open space, business and residences.
When contamination was detected in the soil on the property, however, the original idea was scrapped – to the dismay of the BDC and its many partnering agencies. The plan that followed became the transformative stuff of what happens when stakeholders erase one idea and build another.
The new Phase 1 project, titled the Bainbridge Logistics Center, located off of Jacob Tome Highway in Port Deposit, received final project sign-off last November and has recently begin construction on what will become a 440-acre, four-building complex that will serve as a key logistics and hub for innovative businesses and corporations that will provide up to 3.6 million square feet of Grade A distribution space.
‘Open for Business’
“The entire mission of our state government continues to be keeping Maryland open for business, and today represents the culmination of literally decades of effort to do just that as we officially kick off the redevelopment of more than 400 acres of land in this key location along the I-95 corridor,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said during ceremonies celebrating the beginning of the project on April 28. “There is a major distribution and logistics market in this region, and the development of Bainbridge will be a tremendous asset and help us continue to meet the need for more and more companies seeking to do business in our state.”
Pre-construction meetings have been held, and the construction of two road systems and installation of water and sewer systems are expected to be completed by the Fall of 2022.
Eventually, the Bainbridge Logistics Center will consist of Building A at 1.73 million square feet, Building B at 1.02 million square feet, Building C at 605,280 square feet and Building D, which will be 378,000 square feet (exact square footage subject to change).
In between the facilities, hundreds of acres of green space will help beautify the site, with long-term plans to provide accessibility to the nearby Tome School and eventually to Port Deposit.
Prior to the transfer, the BDC addressed any environmental concerns, cleared all vegetation, and installed necessary sediment and erosion controls, in partnership with master developer MTPM LLC., the U.S. Navy.
“It was important for us to handle all of those activities up front in order to get us to a point that we could transfer the property and allow the developer to get all of the necessary permits and approvals and start on the project,” said BDC Executive Director Toni Sprenkle. “It was a multi-year process to reach a compromise that best suits all parties. We didn’t want this to be a financial burden on the U.S. Navy, and we also needed to ensure that the developer can have a successful project, that is also productive for the surrounding community.”
100 million potential customers along the I-95 corridor
While the roster of future tenants at the facility is still in early stages, it’s a win-win for any business who locates its logistics, storage, and distribution operations at Bainbridge. Strategically located along the I-95 corridor, the eventual companies who will develop on the site will have access to East Coast cities like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City – and nearly 100 million potential customers.
In addition to its $400 capital investment, Baltimore-based MRP Industrial -- the project’s Phase I developer – is also making a substantial investment in the facility’s infrastructure.
“For large companies and retailers who want to upgrade their infrastructure to better manage the transportation services of their goods, the Bainbridge Logistics Center’s location is perfect,” Sprenkle said. “When many people think about warehouses and industrial buildings, they think of gray cinder block facilities, but the technology and the sophistication in these centers will be incredible. The conveyer systems in these buildings can be valued at over $100 million, and most facilities are complimented by training to show staff how to use this sophisticated equipment.”
With over 40 industrial buildings in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey that total nearly 18 million square feet of distribution space, MRP Industrial has become one of the most successful industrial real estate developers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
In 2017, MRP Industrial served as the project developer for Prudential (PGIM)’s vacant parcel of land located in Aberdeen. After a joint marketing effort, MRP constructed a 250,000 square-foot facility for PrimeSource, a national building products company with a distribution network throughout North, Central and South America.
A second nearby project is Franklin Square II, a 192,000 square foot facility located within White Marsh Commerce Center in Baltimore County that is used by Industrial Income Trust (IIT), who acquired the approved development parcel as part of a portfolio acquisition in 2012.
As many as 1,500 sophisticated jobs
As the Phase I stage of the Bainbridge Logistics Center was first being unveiled, it was immediately apparent that the project’s transformative development would bring job creation and economic growth to the surrounding community.
Several years ago, MRP Industrial Principal Dr. Reid Townsend gave the BDC board a presentation in which he hinted at the project’s great potential by referring to MRP Industrial’s past successes that have included attracting businesses to their industrial centers.
Townsend anticipated that the first phase of the Bainbridge Logistics Center would create up to 1,500 sophisticated jobs for those in the warehouse and logistics industry, not including additional jobs for those who will help in the trucking transportation of goods throughout the Northeast corridor.
While the Bainbridge Logistics Center’s economic impact will be felt throughout the county, there is one town just down the road that may reap the benefits of its close proximity to the center most. Sprenkle said that the Bainbridge Logistics Center will produce the tax base, amenities, resources and the jobs and small business reinvestment that is needed to revitalize Port Deposit, in order to draw new residents and recruit shop owners to open a business along Main Street, for instance.
“When the Naval Center closed, it devastated Port Deposit, because at one time, there were 38,000 people on the base and it produced 70 percent of the local economy,” Sprenkle said. “The primary goal of the BDC is to provide financial opportunities while at the same time maintain Port Deposit as an historic town, but in order to do that, there needs to be job creation and tax revenue to invest in improvements and amenities.
“With Phase I, Port Deposit could potentially double their operating budget in just one year, which will allow them to invest in properties and clean up a park in order to slowly make the town more appealing for folks to visit here and potentially relocate here.”
When Sprenkle first arrived at the BDC in 2014, the non-profit group was in the thick of maneuvering itself past environmental findings, potential liabilities while at the same time seeing the goalposts of a project to bring a mixed-use development to Bainbridge move farther and farther away from their sights.
Now, with the start of the Bainbridge Logistics Center now moving ahead, Sprenkle reflected on what it took the BDC to get here.
“It took years of thinking outside of the box in order to reimagine the future,” she said. “We would not have been able to persevere without the input from our elected officials, who have facilitated discussions with leadership in the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense.
“Years ago, Maryland was never looked at as development friendly, but over the past five years, we have taken on the mantle of being more open for development and progress. The Bainbridge Logistics Center will become a part of that development, and I think many will be surprised to see the ripple effect that this project will have, not just on the local community, but across the state and the region.
“Collectively, we will begin to reap the benefits of development, new jobs, updated road systems and small business development in Port Deposit. In terms of potential, the sky is the limit.”
To learn more about the Bainbridge Logistics Center in Port Deposit, visit the Bainbridge Development Corporation’s website at www.BainbridgeDevelopment.org., or follow them on Twitter: @BainbridgeDevCorp.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].