Comcast to move regional office to South Baltimore

When Comcast Corp. leaders first took a tour of McHenry Row in South Baltimore, the leasing broker doubted the cable and media giant was serious about renting space in the property.

The Pennsylvania firm had a large and longstanding presence in Baltimore County, where it employed more than 1,000 people last year, according to the state.


But on Thursday, developer Mark Sapperstein said Comcast had signed a lease for more than 28,000 square feet at McHenry Row, where it plans to relocate a regional office from White Marsh and bring 140 corporate workers into the city next year.

"I didn't believe they would do it, but they did," said Joseph P. Nolan, a principal at the NAI KLNB real estate brokerage, who represented Sapperstein's 28 Walker Development on the deal. "I was a little surprised."


Surprised and not surprised.

The deal comes as companies increasingly look to urban areas in an effort to attract workers, especially younger ones who like to live in cities, Nolan said.

Comcast follows other firms, including Mindgrub and Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, that have moved to the Fort Avenue project from outside Baltimore.

Comcast intends to maintain office locations in the county, spokeswoman Eliza Findlay said Thursday. She declined to be specific or talk more about the deal, saying the company is still working on the plans.

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Sapperstein's mixed-use project offers free parking to office tenants, easy access to Interstate 95 and a grocery store and numerous restaurants. But he's been surprised by the demand.

"Very surprised," he said, adding that he is hopeful McHenry Row's success speaks to a broader trend.

The interest in the Locust Point site is so strong Sapperstein intends to present plans for an additional 85,000 to 100,000 square feet of offices to the city next week. He's also planning a 119-room Marriott Courtyard Inn.

The Comcast deal brings the 215,000 square feet of offices at McHenry Row's Banner Building — a former Phillips Seafood headquarters and warehouse — to fully leased. The 20-acre site includes 250 apartments, with another 224 in the works; about 300,000 square feet of offices and 110,000-square feet of retail.


Baltimore's vacancy rates have tightened as developers have converted older office properties into residential buildings, but tenant growth remains slower than in markets like Howard or Anne Arundel counties, said Patrick Latimer, a Baltimore-based research manager for the JLL real estate brokerage. Still, there is evidence of companies moving in, he said.

"It's part of a broader trend, just not like a massive tidal wave," he said.