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State insurance agency expected to move to Montgomery Park from downtown

Baltimore, Md. -- The Maryland Insurance Administration is moving to Montgomery Park in southwest Baltimore from downtown.
Baltimore, Md. -- The Maryland Insurance Administration is moving to Montgomery Park in southwest Baltimore from downtown. (Jed Kirschbaum / The Baltimore Sun)

The Maryland Insurance Administration plans to move from St. Paul Plaza in downtown Baltimore to Montgomery Park in the southwestern part of the city, the state Department of General Services confirmed Monday.

The department chose Mongtomery Park for the state’s insurance regulator after soliciting proposals last year for a headquarters location in the city for the agency.

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“Montgomery Park was chosen through a competitive procurement process,” said Nick Cavey, a spokesman for General Services, in an email.

The lease must be approved by the state Board of Public Works, which General Services expects to request in August.

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The lease for the 250-person state agency, a tenant in St. Paul Place for nine years, expires next June, said Tim Polanowski, president and CEO of The Kornblatt Co., owner of St. Paul Plaza.

The agency now occupies 68,771 square feet in the high-rise at 200 St. Paul Place, along with tenants such as the state Office of the Attorney General, NFL Players Retirement Plan and Chubb Group of Insurance Cos.

Polanowski said he had been in talks with the state for the past three years about extending the lease and was only notified of the move in early May, when he was told his company’s proposal came in second.

He said he wrote to the state agency objecting to the state’s decision to pull workers from downtown.

“We are losing tenants in downtown Baltimore that will support businesses that have opened up in downtown,” Polanowski said. “If they were moving to 25 South Charles, we probably wouldn’t be sending this letter. We depend on each other for success.”

The state was seeking parking and proximity to a transit station, according to the RFP.

A representative of Montgomery Park Business Center, at 1800 Washington Blvd., could not be reached immediately Monday. The 2.2-million-square-foot business center, a 52-acre redevelopment of the historic Montgomery Ward Catalog House, is anchored by the state Department of the Environment. Other tenants are NCO Financial Systems Inc., XL Health, United Way of Central Maryland and the Maryland State Lottery.

Representatives of the insurance administration could not be reached Monday.

Polanowski said he couldn’t comment on the rent negotiations with the state for the space but said the state is currently paying $23.38 per square foot, with access to the public transportation many workers use.

“’We feel we are the pinnacle of public transportation,” he said. “We gave them a fair proposal that we thought addressed the issues.”

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