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Enoch Pratt selects temporary home for Central Library books

The Enoch Pratt plans to relocate some of its collection to this Annapolis Road warehouse during the renovation of the Central Library.
The Enoch Pratt plans to relocate some of its collection to this Annapolis Road warehouse during the renovation of the Central Library. (courtesy of Colliers International)

Some of the 1.4 million books housed at the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library are set to move to less distinguished digs: a 40,000-square-foot space in a Westport warehouse.

The temporary relocation is expected to start in the spring, as work gets underway on a nearly $115 million renovation of the central library building, said Enoch Pratt Director of Communications Roswell Encina. The project, planned to proceed in stages and finish in 2018, includes new bathrooms, mechanical systems, restoration of the architecture and updates to the property's technology capabilities.

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The 1930s-era building is to remain open to patrons during the renovation, with a selection of books on-hand. A small fleet of trucks will transfer any requested materials to and from the warehouse, located at 1915 Annapolis Road.

"The site will be a construction site so it's going to take a lot of maneuvering," Encina said.

The library has not settled on which items will be sent off-site. But, he joked, "If you want the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, we'll make sure that's available [at the central library]."

The 52-month lease, signed last month, starts Dec. 1. The library plans to spend about $250,000 to make the warehouse book-ready, installing items such as a computer service and new heating and cooling system, Encina said.

Money for the rent – about $146,000 each year not including operating expenses -- will come from the budget for the project, of which nearly $94 million is state-funded, Encina said.
The roughly 161,000-square-foot warehouse is owned by TA Associates Realty, a private Boston-based firm that manages 91 million square feet of commercial real estate and 12,300 residential units nationwide. 

About 60,000-square-feet remain vacant, said Tyler Boykin, vice president at Colliers International in Baltimore, which represented the firm during negotiations.

"We're pleased to secure a local, credit-worthy tenant for TA Realty," Boykin said. "Enoch Pratt is a well-respected institution in Maryland, and we're proud to work with them."

About 30 people are likely to work in the warehouse, where the library's processing department will relocate during the renovation, Encina said. The lease includes about 3,000-square-feet of office space.

nsherman@baltsun.com

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