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Owings Mills loses bid for federal site


The list of candidates for the Health Care Financing Administration's new headquarters has been whittled to four, with Owings Mills having been ruled out by the General Services Administration as a site for the federal agency that runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

"Essentially, GSA said it didn't feel the site was appropriate compared to the other ones," said John Chirtea, a partner in Linpro Co. Inc., one of the companies that had been trying to persuade the government to move the agency, which now occupies several buildings in Woodlawn, to a 40-acre site off Lakeside Boulevard northwest of Owings Mills Mall. He said he had received a letter from the GSA dated Thursday.The GSA leases and manages federal offices.

The GSA action, which the agency would not confirm, narrows the search for a headquarters site to Woodlawn or downtown Baltimore. Baltimore and Baltimore County officials have been competing fiercely for the project, coveting the economic benefits that would come from a complex for 3,300 government workers by 1995.

Developers backing two of the four remaining sites said they have been invited to negotiating sessions with GSA officials in Philadelphia next week.

One of the two sites is a 57.4-acre tract in the Rolling Heights Business Center in Woodlawn, backed by a partnership between James F. Knott Development Co. of Towson and Boston Properties Inc.

The second is a site near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is backed by the Rouse Co. of Columbia, Whiting-Turner Construction of Baltimore and Daniel P. Henson III.

A third developer, Stephen M. Gorn, president of Questar Properties in Pikesville, said his group plans to meet with the GSA but hasn't set a time. Questar, working with Manekin Corp. of Baltimore, is backing 95 acres at Rolling Wind Center in Woodlawn.

Developers backing the fourth site couldn't be reached yesterday. Foulger-Pratt Development/Construction Inc. of Montgomery County has proposed to buy an 82-acre site in Woodlawn's Windsor Corporate Park from local developer Leroy Merritt and build the headquarters there.

In a related move, Baltimore County zoning officials have scheduled a March 12 hearing on the Knott-Boston Properties plan in the Rolling Heights Business Center.

Kevin Geraghty, a senior development manager for Knott, said he expects the GSA to make up its mind by July or August. "We're going ahead with the county process at this time because we have to submit a best and final proposal to GSA by sometime in April, and we want to be assured that we can build it."

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