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Inner Harbor East makes effort to lure state offices


Developers of the $350 million Inner Harbor East community say they would be able to provide office space to the State Highway Administration as an alternative to the state's plan to spend $18.5 million to add a large office building in Camden Yards, where the new baseball stadium is being constructed.

Michael Culbert, vice president of real estate for Gilbane Properties Inc., the lead developer of the Inner Harbor East project, said his company would be able to provide 250,000 square feet of office space in its 20-acre development by early 1992.

Mr. Culbert thinks Gilbane could provide office space at a cost comparable to or less than the cost at Camden Yards and that the Inner Harbor East site would be a far better location for the Highway Administration.

He said the influx of 1,100 to 1,200 employees from the agency would do much to help Baltimore's Inner Harbor East area, about which Gov. William Donald Schaefer expressed concern during a recent Board of Public Works meeting.

"From our perspective, we think it's a lot better investment for the state to be elsewhere," Mr. Culbert said, comparing his project to Camden Yards.

"We think we'd have a lot better environment for office workers. However we structure an agreement, whether it's joint ownership or something else, we feel we could be as competitive as they are."

Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, has been working with state officials to determine whether the Highway Administration can be accommodated at Camden Yards when its current lease at 707 N. Calvert St. expires at the end of 1991.

Mr. Hoffman told Baltimore's Architectural Review Board last month that the Stadium Authority is considering plans to build a 128,000-square-foot addition on the south end of the B&O; warehouse to meet the space needs of the agency, which also would occupy the south end of the warehouse.

Mr. Hoffman said he would like to bring the Highway Administration to Camden Yards because it definitely intends to move from Calvert Street and its lease payments would help defray the cost of renovating the warehouse, which will serve as a backdrop for the 47,000-seat baseball stadium scheduled to open in the spring of 1992.

He said the agency would be a good match with the stadium because its employees would leave the office in time to free the Camden Yards parking lots for night games.

Although it has been exploring the idea for some time, the Highway Administration does not have a signed agreement with the Stadium Authority to move to Camden Yards, said spokeswoman Diane Levero.

Mr. Culbert said his project includes plans for a 14- to 15-story office building that would be ideal for the Highway Administration.

"It would be a home run if we could get a user like that down there," Mr. Culbert said. "That type of user is a great anchor for this kind of project. And in this environment, that's what you need."

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