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Cordish Co. is preparing to renovate historic Furness House, lease space to tenant


Two years after it acquired the historic Furness House near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the Cordish Co. is preparing to renovate it for a potential tenant.

Company representatives presented plans last week to Baltimore's Architectural Review Board that call for 12 new windows to be created on the blank north side of the building at 19 to 21 South St.

The windows would face into Redwood Court, a park that is being created at the base of Commerce Place, the 30-story office building that is nearing completion just north of the Furness House at Baltimore and South streets.

Cordish representatives say they are negotiating with two prospective tenants who are interested in taking space in the vacant building and both want the windows to be installed.

The Cordish representatives say they are so confident that one of the prospects will occupy the building that they plan to move ahead with the work as soon as the permits are issued.

Developer David Cordish declined to identify the possible tenants. But one firm that has been looking at the Furness House is Alex. Brown & Sons, whose asset management group may be relocated from the firm's headquarters at Baltimore and Calvert streets.

Robert W. Grose, principal in charge of administration and support services for Alex. Brown, said the company is seeking about 10,000 square feet to accommodate the asset management group, so it can move out of the headquarters and free space for other departments. Mr. Grose said Furness House is one of the places Alex. Brown is considering but that no decision has been made.

Beck, Powell & Parsons Inc. is the project architect.

Kann + Ammon

After an 18-year partnership, the architectural team of Donald Kann and John Ammon is about to fall apart, with both architects starting their own firms.

A woman who answered the phone at the Pratt Street office of Kann + Ammon Inc. confirmed that Mr. Ammon and Mr. Kann are planning to part company in the near future. Mr. Kann is expected to keep his new firm at 517 W. Pratt St., where the company has been located. Mr. Ammon is expected to move to 1025 St. Paul St., where he will lease space from another architectural firm, Edmunds & Hyde Inc. Most of the employees are expected to remain with Mr. Kann. Mr. Ammon declined to discuss the separation, and Mr. Kann could not be reached.

The firm is known as one of the best restoration architects in the city, working on such commissions as the restorations of Lovely Lane United Methodist Church and Zion Lutheran Church near City Hall.

Auction block

* A previously scheduled auction of the Sphinx Club, a tavern at 2105-2109 Pennsylvania Ave., was canceled this week after the owners filed for protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, according to A. J. Billig & Co. auctioneers.

* A 3.1-acre parcel at 4004 Old Court Road in Pikesville that has been subdivided for development of 30 town houses was purchased for $900,000 at auction Monday by Second National Bank of Maryland. The auction, by Atlantic Auctions, was a foreclosure sale on behalf the bank.

* Town-house condominiums at 2 and 4 Stone Manor Court in Baltimore County were sold yesterday for $100,000 and $145,000. The auction, by Atlantic Auctions, was a foreclosure sale on behalf of Sterling Bank and Trust Co.

Special tax district

The Building Owners and Managers Association of Metropolitan Baltimore has given its support to legislation pending before the General Assembly that would help create a special tax district for downtown Baltimore, in which property owners would pay 5 percent more in property taxes in return for increased services such as security and cleaning.

"Our ability to structure a viable working partnership between public and private interests should greatly enhance the value of real property and help recruit and preserve a strong business community," said BOMA President Craig Scheiner.

Around the region:

* Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is scheduled to preside at a topping-off ceremony for the new Legal Aid Bureau headquarters today at 1 p.m. at the northeast corner of Lexington and Gay streets.

* The law firm of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger and Hollander will sponsor a free seminar entitled "Dealing With the Financially Distressed/Bankrupt Tenant or Client," Feb. 27 from 8 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at the Mount Washington Conference Center's F & G Life Building, 5801 Smith Ave. in Mount Washington. Registrations are required by Feb. 17. More information is available from Megan Anderson at 576-4156.

* Coakley and Williams Construction Co. was awarded the contract to construct a $14.2 million, 200,000-square-foot Incoming Mail distribution facility for the U. S. Postal Service at the Hock Industrial Park, Aero Drive and Corporate Boulevard in Linthicum Heights. When completed in April 1993, the facility will assume some of the workload of the general mail facility at 900 E. Fayette St. in Baltimore. With 500 to 600 employees, it will also process mail for the Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Halethorpe, Catonsville, Clarksville, Ellicott City and Columbia areas.

* Two architectural firms, Ballinger of Philadelphia and Richter Cornbrooks Gribble of Baltimore, have been selected to design a $39.4 million, 180,000-square-foot Plant Sciences Building for the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Construction is expected to begin this fall.

* Baltimore Heritage, a local preservation advocacy organization, is seeking nominations for its annual preservation awards program. March 15 is the deadline for nominations. Entry forms are available from the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects office at 11 1/2 W. Chase St. or by calling Karen Lewand at 625-2585.

* Howard Chambers and Bill Michael of C.B. Commercial Real Estate Group represented the buyer and the seller recently when Prince Realty, an affiliate of Prince Jewelry, bought the old Hotel Junker at 22 E. Fayette Street for $1.08 million. The seller was Home Federal Savings Bank of Hagerstown.

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