Ex-HCD commissioner is joining RTKLRTKL Associates Inc....


Ex-HCD commissioner is joining RTKL

RTKL Associates Inc. said yesterday that former Baltimore Housing and Community Development Commissioner M.J. "Jay" Brodie will join the state's biggest architecture firm as head of its Washington office.

Mr. Brodie, head of HCD between 1977 and 1984, has been executive director of Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., a public-private agency that oversees redevelopment efforts in a 21-block area between the White House and the Capitol. During his tenure, it has won plaudits for such projects as Pennsylvania Quarter, a new mixed-use neighborhood near the Capitol.

RTKL Chairman Harold Adams said Mr. Brodie will become the head of the Baltimore-based firm's urban planning practice. Mr. Brodie couldn't be reached late yesterday.

Mr. Adams said the firm went after Mr. Brodie because, a year after the retirement of former planning chief George Pillorge, "it became more and more obvious we needed someone of Jay's stature. . . . Projects we're involved in are asking us more and more to organize the process of redevelopment. The Charles Center redevelopment and the Pennsylvania Avenue redevelopment are perfect prototypes."

The closest such job to home is in Atlantic City, N.J., where RTKL last year landed a contract for planning, urban design and landscape architecture work for a proposed mixed-use corridor.

But Mr. Adams said the firm is also doing similar work abroad.

Ground to be broken for HCFA headquarters

The real estate battle of the decade ends, and the real estate development, locally anyway, of the decade begins tomorrow when Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala breaks ground for the new Woodlawn headquarters of the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration.

The 875,000-square-foot complex will be built by a joint venture of Boston Properties and James F. Knott Development Corp. of Towson, which triumphed over a group led by The Rouse Co. of Columbia. The Rouse group had wanted to build the next home of the nation's Medicaid and Medicare bureaucracies just north of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The HCFA's staff will move from nine aging Woodlawn-area buildings into the new complex in 1995. The new headquarters )) was sought by both city and county officials because HCFA is projected to employ 3,300 people by 1995.

The U.S. General Services Administration, which manages federal real estate, awarded the deal to the Boston/Knott partnership last August, saying its $122 million price was $16 million lower than the Rouse-led partnership. The U.S. General Accounting Office denied the Rouse group's appeals in March.

Baltimore ranks 8th in office vacancy rate

So, which set of cities has more in common with Baltimore: Melbourne, Los Angeles and Istanbul or Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Indianapolis?

Either way, at least in real estate terms, the answer can be a bummer.

According to a study by Boston-based Colliers International Property Consultants in Skylines, the magazine of the Building Owners and Managers Association International, Baltimore's office vacancy rate of about 22 percent ranked 8th among 72 cities surveyed, up there with global see-through building leaders Perth, Melbourne, Istanbul and Auckland, as well as U.S. leaders like Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.

But rents that Baltimore owners can command for office space ranked around the middle. While Tokyo topped the list at an average rent of $121 a square foot for a prime downtown 'D location, Baltimore came in at an average of $17.50 a square foot, comparable to the Midwestern set of cities.

The lowest vacancy rates in the world survey belong to Victoria, British Columbia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Bangkok. The world's lowest office rents, according to the survey, are in New Zealand.

All the cities were ranked based on data from the end of 1992.

"The good news in U.S. real estate is that the worst is behind us," the magazine quoted Colliers President Stewart Forbes as saying. "However, it is difficult to tell when the good times may begin."

Md. to accept bids for rehab center job

Short takes:

* The state Department of Education will accept bids next week for a $5 million addition to the Maryland Rehabilitation Center in Northeast Baltimore.

Project architect James Colimore said the four-story building will allow consolidation of administrative offices, add 20 inpatient beds and two independent living apartments for handicapped residents, and provide a floor of new rehabilitation classrooms. About 16 companies are expected to bid for the job.

* BTR Realty Inc. sold all seven of the condominiums it offered at auction in the Ocean City development of Harbour Island on June 26, said Raymond Nichols, chief of Atlantic Auctions Inc. Mr. Nichols said the units sold for an average of $172,000, compared to the original asking price of about $250,000.

BTR scheduled the sale to get rid of non-income producing assets before it converts itself to a real estate investment trust from a corporation this summer.

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