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St. John Properties' recent purchase of 18 acres next to its Baltimore Crossroads @95 office, industrial, and flex park in White Marsh may seem like small potatoes, considering the entire park is 1,000 acres. But the slice of land fills a hole to create a 79-acre contiguous parcel (the better to attract corporate campuses with) and provides critical back-door access to the park.
Edie Brown and Jerry Wit at the Grand Prix on Sept. 2, 2012
St. John's Jerry Wit (on Sunday at his firm's Grand Prix digs at the hairpin turn with last year's Grand Prix PR maven Edie Brown) tells us one of the first things he did after closing the acquisition was call Baltimore County Economic Development head Dan Gunderson so Dan's organization can start bragging about it to potential occupants (perhaps a pharmaceutical firm, Jerry offers). Jerry says St. John's first choice is to maintain ownership, but it won't stand in the way of a deal with a company that wants to own. The new parcel also improves traffic circulation within the 33%-developed park and makes it more appealing for tenants and safer for future development; for instance, it offers alternative access along Earls Road for fire trucks. Infrastructure work to that purpose will finish by year's end.

Baltimore Crossroads @95
The off-market deal wouldn't have happened if not for some over-the-fence neighborly gabbing. Jerry happens to live in Cockeysville and has been neighbors with Mel Benhoff for 25 years. The Benhoffs' paving operation had a deal "on the 1-yard line," Jerry says, to sell to another paving company when Mel brought it up in casual conversation. Jerry called the broker right away to request a meeting, and the pair sat down in Towson Diner (always a hotbed of Baltimore dealmaking) at 8am and emerged at 3pm with a signed contract. (If only the Hatfields and McCoys had the Towson Diner.)