The National Security Agency (NSA) has selected a Woodlawn firm to develop a $10 million warehouse in Anne Arundel County, ending a two-year search for a site to consolidate existing facilities.
The 281,000-square-foot building, to be built by Merritt, represents one of the largest new commercial real estate projects in the Baltimore metropolitan area this year.
"We've been looking for a warehouse site for a [Department of Defense] customer, and what this award will do is consolidate existing facilities and ultimately save the government money," said Edgar L. "Les" Purcell, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore realty services field office, the agency responsible for all local NSA real estate projects.
Mr. Purcell, who declined to identify the NSA as the tenant, said the project, at 1490 Dorsey Road, is expected to be completed by March 1996. In all, 16 firms submitted proposals.
But Steve McAnallen, a spokesman for the secretive federal agency, said the new building, roughly three miles from the NSA's headquarters at Fort Meade, will bring together two NSA facilities.
Mr. McAnallen could not specify the immediate cost savings.
Sources with knowledge of the new project said the NSA plans to use the warehouse to store satellites and other sophisticated electronic listening devices.
The NSA, whose 20,000 employees gather electronic intelligence worldwide, has been consolidating operations because of Department of Defense cutbacks.
Its most recent move was in July 1992, when it signed a lease for a vacant 12-story office tower across from its headquarters. That commitment, which could run through 2006, is valued at roughly $27 million.
The Army Corps of Engineers will lease the new facility on behalf of the NSA from Merritt for 10 years. The agency also has the option to renew the commitment through 2016, according to a solicitation for offers released to potential developers in early March.
The lease has an estimated value of nearly $12 million through 2006, based on industrial rental rates required for new construction. Congressional approval for the project was obtained last year.
For Merritt, the project marks its first new industrial development since June 1993, when the firm constructed a 255,000-square-foot warehouse on behalf of Procter & Gamble Co. in Harford County.
In all, Merritt controls 8.5 million square feet of commercial space valued at roughly $250 million.
Merritt President Scott Dorsey referred inquiries to the Army Corps of Engineers.