Bel Air is known as the “Heart of Harford,” a county of more than 252,000 residents, whose prime location on the Interstate 95 corridor offers an expanding business environment with over 28 new and growing companies resulting in over $35 million in capital investments and 445 new jobs reported in 2015. The area is home to diverse businesses including distribution centers, manufacturers, retailers, technology companies, and energy projects. Aberdeen Proving Ground, with 20,900 employees (97% civilians), is the County’s largest employer and Maryland’s largest workforce center by population. As a prime center for research, development, testing, and evaluation, this U.S. Army base is supported by more than 110 defense contractor companies.
Located in the northwest corner of Maryland on U.S. Route 1 and just north of Interstate 95, Bel Air offers a high quality of life along with a small-town atmosphere created by its historic surroundings, summer concerts, festivals, and farmers market now in its 41st season. Founded in 1780, Bel Air became the county seat of Harford County two years later and began building the courthouse, now a prominent downtown landmark. The mid-nineteenth century brought substantial growth with the introduction of the canning industry, the Maryland and Pennsylvania railroad, and related financial businesses. Benefitting from the easy access to the major markets of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, the town of Bel Air has grown to a current population of 10,120 with a median household income of $68,039 while the Greater Bel Air area is home to 60,723 residents with a median household income of $87,383. The unemployment rate stands at a low 4.5%.
After substantial growth to the town and its suburbs in the last two decades, Bel Air is the center for governmental, educational, cultural, medical, and commercial development in the county, with 700 businesses in its three square miles. The town’s largest employer is the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center providing comprehensive healthcare with the latest in medical technology with 3,100 employees. MedStar Health recently opened a new 100,000-square-foot healthcare facility in Bel Air offering primary care, women’s health, urgent care, and centers for various specialties. Nearby Harford Community College enrolls 20,500 full-time, part-time, and continuing education students and employs 1,000 staff members. Other major employers include the Rite Aid Customer Support Center, Jacobs Technology, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Among many companies currently engaged in expansion are Frito Lay, MedStar, Automated Motion, a solutions provider of robotics systems, and Dave Wheatley Enterprises, a plastics engineering and manufacturing company.
This report includes six established shopping centers in Bel Air. The current retail vacancy rate is at its lowest level since April 2015, at 7.6% for the submarket. Over the past three months, asking rents have increased by a total of 1.1%. Average allowances offered to new tenants are $20.39 per square foot for improvements and 2.6 months of free rent. Asking rents for anchor tenants range from $10.00 to $20.00 per square foot, with an average of $11.90. In-line asking rates range from $14.71 to $36.39 per square foot, with an average of $23.81.
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