Serving the massive, fast-paced and high-tech needs of today’s industrial market requires CRE professionals to be nimble and inventive. Several winners of NAIOP Maryland’s 2024 Awards of Excellence met those needs by delivering properties that were huge, complex and, in some cases, beyond the norms of industrial architecture.

The GAF Distribution Center project enabled the company to both expand its operations and adopt next-generation technology. Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Contracting.

GAF Materials Corporation’s decision to expand and modernize its Baltimore distribution center presented GAF and its project team with an extraordinary challenge. GAF’s vision was to construct a new, 50,000-square-foot center across Newkirk Road from its existing building and link the two structures – and their conveyor belt systems – via a bridge over the road. The project would also enable GAF to install a new robotics system.

“We knew this project would be unchartered territory for everyone involved,” said EJ Youngling, Vice President of Chesapeake Contracting Group.

Chesapeake initiated early coordination with the supplier of the robotics and conveyor system to ensure that all structural, electrical and mechanical aspects of the project would support the new technologies. It also engaged a surveyor early in the process to precisely plot out and monitor the alignment of the new building, the bridge and the opening that Chesapeake would have to make in the existing GAF center. Extensive prefabrication of the 200-foot-long by 20-foot-wide bridge enabled crews to successfully complete its installation with just one week of work onsite.

MRP Industrial customized its development in Violetville to meet the distinct fleet and employee needs at Frito Lay. Photo courtesy of MRP Industrial.

Construction of the new tilt-up building presented its own challenge. Working on a remediated former Exxon site, the project team had to design and install utilities, stormwater management facilities and 17 acres of roller-compacted concrete without penetrating the site’s clay layer, 15 feet beneath the surface.

“We spent a lot of time up front making sure the design was not going to get close to that clay layer,” Youngling said. “Once we started construction, we had a spotter work with the site utility contractor to make sure we didn’t touch the layer. And in a few places where the design put us close to it, we were hand digging to be safe.”

On the City Logistics development, the team at MRP Industrial met a range of stakeholder needs.

MCB Real Estate completed a deal with extraordinary speed to provide its client, ACE Logistics, with an ideal distribution center. Photo courtesy of MCB Real Estate.

Just one-quarter mile from an I-95 interchange and accessed through its own signalized intersection, “the locational value was absolutely not replicable” said Kate Nolan Bryden, Senior Vice President.
MRP faced stiff competition to acquire the land, but its development plan “was validated pretty quickly when Frito Lay decided to lease the entire first building,” Nolan Bryden said. MRP was able to customize the property for Frito Lay, providing expanded space for its next-generation delivery fleet and additional parking for the 80-person sales and logistics team that would also be located on site.

At the same time, MRP also addressed the desires of city officials and residents of neighboring Violetville to avoid creating a “concrete jungle” on the property, which was formerly Seton Keough High School. MRP landscaped the property with more than 300 trees to create a park-like setting.

That decision also produced benefits for tenants and their employees.

“The site is lush and green. It contributes to a sense of well-being, fosters a sense of security and creates a place that people want to work in,” she said. “A huge challenge for tenants is maintaining workforce so anything we can do to make our projects more appealing is helpful.”

Meanwhile in Port Deposit, MRP was working to meet the needs of industrial clients on a grand scale by delivering Phase 1 of Bainbridge – an industrial park developed on a World War II era naval training station. Spanning 440 acres, Phase 1 includes two completed spec buildings – measuring 1 million square feet and 600,000 square feet – and a master plan that can accommodate another 2.2 million square feet of development.

In Port Deposit, the massive Bainbridge project is currently turning 440 acres of a WWII naval base into a modern industrial park. Photo courtesy of MRP Industrial.

“What makes Bainbridge great is it was designed and masterplanned by industrial specialists who have great insight into what is happening in the industrial market around the country,” Nolan Bryden said.
Consequently, the masterplan accommodates “the full range of big box distribution centers on one site” from 400,000 square feet to 1.8 million square feet, she said. The master plan also optimizes trailer parking, auto parking and vehicle circulation.

Sometimes the needs of industrial clients, however, come with extremely tight timelines. When ACE Logistics began searching for a new distribution center, MCB Real Estate identified a perfect solution. A Harford County property, formerly known as the Tower Logistics Center, was a recently built, never occupied, Class A, 860,000-square-foot building that was on the market. It was an ideal location for ACE.

To meet ACE’s needs and the seller’s tight closing deadline, “we shepherded everything together in record time,” said Chuck McMahon, Vice President. “From the day the contract was signed to the day the deal closed was 60 days.”

Several factors enabled that speed. MCB worked closely with ACE to finalize lease terms, while arranging debt financing and an equity joint venture with long-time partner Artemis Real Estate Partners.
“We were fortunate to have lenders and investors who were attracted to this specific product type in this specific geographic market with this specific tenant profile,” McMahon said. “As a result, the deal advanced quickly with favorable outcomes for everyone.”


Chesapeake Veterinary Referral Center
Yorkridge Center North

At Yorkridge Center North, St. John Properties, Inc. transformed a “generations-old” flex/R&D building into a modern, specialized veterinary care facility. St. John collaborated with Chesapeake Veterinary Referral Center (CVRC) to design and build out nearly 46,000 square feet to house six separate practice groups and 150 employees. CVRC provides dogs and cats with a range of care, including cardiology, neurology, surgery, internal medicine, rehabilitative services, eye care, and 24/7 emergency care.

The $7.6 million buildout features seven operating rooms (each with dedicated HVAC systems), extensive custom millwork, and specialty medical equipment, including a CT machine, MRI trailer, bulk oxygen tank storage, three x-ray machines, a hyperbaric chamber, underwater treadmill, and commercial-sized washers and dryers.

St. John Properties also constructed a secure exterior dog run. Elevated above the parking lot, the run features turf flooring that allows dogs to run, play and relieve themselves with minimal cleanup.