MRP Industrial had just completed the shell of a 1 million-square foot Class A industrial building at the Eastgate Industrial Park when a major opportunity — and an equally large challenge –—surfaced.
Following a multi-state search, home goods retailer Wayfair decided to locate its new East Coast distribution center at the Aberdeen park. The hitch was that Wayfair needed more space and so MRP would need to construct a 200,000-square-foot expansion that had been master planned on the parcel.
MRP was determined to satisfy Wayfair’s needs and meet its fast-track schedule. Leveraging its deep relationships with general contractors, subs and suppliers, and working closely with Harford County officials, MRP secured the permits, materials and construction contracts for the expansion.
“We had a lot of people pulling for this project – working through supply chain challenges and working overtime in the holiday season,” said Kate Nolan Bryden, Senior Vice President of MRP Industrial.
In seven and a half months, the team completed the final project, delivering a 1.2 million-square-foot facility, fitting out 15,000 square feet of office space, and providing the new tenant with 400 parking spaces and 500 off-building trailer stalls. The Wayfair project won the Best Build To Suit Award.
“This was a very special project to us,” Nolan Bryden said. “Wayfair is an amazing tenant who is going to fully utilize that building and bring a lot of jobs to Harford County. It was a perfect way to complete our development at Eastgate which was our first, large, master-planned industrial park development in Maryland.”
Strong demand for new distribution centers has created major opportunities in the industrial real estate market in Maryland. But as several winners of this year’s Awards of Excellence demonstrated, excelling in this sector is not easy. It takes the ability to deliver massive facilities with distinct specifications on very tight schedules.
Nolan Bryden admits that even she was astonished by the speed of MRP’s Bainbridge project, winner of the Best Transaction Award. The 1,100 acre site of the former Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Port Deposit had attracted the interest of numerous developers over the years. In the past two decades, companies have pursued unsuccessful plans to create a granite quarry, NASCAR track, amusement park, nuclear power plant, senior living campus and residential golf community on the site.
In 2019, MRP Industrial approached state and local officials with a proposal to turn the former naval facility into a major logistics campus and MRP was determined to move fast.
“The market timing was right for a project of this scale and this particular product type,” Nolan Bryden said. “Entitling 3.8 million square feet in nine months is a really unique accomplishment. It was amazing for me to see the collaboration between the public and private stakeholders, and to participate in that process.”
Executing the deal required extremely close collaboration with and responsiveness to state, county and town officials, as well as the surrounding community. It also required a focused, driven development team.
“We had very focused weekly project meetings with the design team, consultants and other stakeholders to keep the project on schedule. The intensity and the speed was different from anything I had ever participated in, and the responsiveness and support from the county and town with regard to reviews kept the project on track. The process was an incredible model for what is possible when public and private work together to bring about smart growth for the region.” Nolan Bryden said.
The MRP team knew that one key to a successful development would be getting the site plan exactly right, she said. “A part of our recipe for success at Eastgate – and a key factor that drove Wayfair to select our site – was providing adequate trailer storage and circulation. We refined the site plan throughout the entitlement process to ensure best in class site characteristics.”
Mass grading is now underway at Bainbridge and MRP expects to deliver its first buildings in 2023.
In White Marsh, Chesapeake Real Estate Group channeled its expertise into rapidly meeting the needs of a major client. Chesapeake had purchased a 50-acre site which was previously slated to become a Paragon Outlets retail center, and crafted plans to develop Nottingham Ridge – a pair of buildings totaling 750,000 square feet to serve the e-commerce industry.
Chesapeake started 5300 Nottingham Ridge, a 580,000 square foot building, on a speculative basis. But mindful of the possible preferences of a major tenant, Chesapeake included more upgrades – including improved floor slab, dock equipment, building ventilation, lighting and trailer parking – than would typically go into a spec building.
Consequently, when Amazon expressed interest in the building mid-construction, Chesapeake was able to meet their requirements with limited modifications, such as creating loading space on a third side of the building. The Nottingham Ridge Logistics Building 1 won the Best Warehouse Award.
At Waugh Chapel Business Park, winner of the Best Industrial Park Award, St. John Properties made outstanding efforts to meet another industrial tenant requirement, namely the desire for highly attractive work environments. Consisting of three, LEED-designed buildings totaling 100,000 square feet, the park boasts an array of amenities, including pavilions, a pond and walking paths to support individuals’ health and wellness. The industrial development is also adjacent to Waugh Chapel Town Center, providing workers with ready access to restaurants and retailers.
“St. John Properties always delivers great product. But with this development, they delivered great location, LEED-certified buildings, direct access to an amenity base and really a best-in-class flex industrial park,” said Ryan Burrows, co-chair of the NAIOP Maryland Awards of Excellence Committee.