Mayor appoints panel to study downtown office vacancy rate

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has established a 19-member working group to recommend ways to reduce the high office vacancy rate downtown, the mayor's office announced Monday. The mayor said she wants the group of business leaders and public officials to suggest measures to fill vacant office space throughout the central business district.

Real estate developers and others say the office vacancy rate in downtown Baltimore is approaching 25 percent, the highest level in years, as a result of the recession and other factors, such as companies' decisions to move from downtown to newer areas such as Harbor East. At the same time, some downtown office buildings are landing new tenants, such as Transamerica Life Insurance Co., which is consolidating its regional offices at 100 Light St.

The work group is scheduled to begin meeting in January.

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