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UMBC to purchase Lockheed Martin building School to buy Catonsville complex for $11 million


The University of Maryland Baltimore County has reached an agreement to purchase a Lockheed Martin Corp. office and laboratory complex in Catonsville that the defense giant plans to abandon at the end of the year.

The estimated $11 million purchase, contingent upon approval from the state legislature, will ease overcrowding at UMBC's main campus nearby and provide needed incubator space for start-up businesses, said Mark Behm, UMBC's vice president of administrative affairs.

As part of an effort to become more of a research and technology-oriented institution, the school in 1989 established a Technology Enterprise Center, but tenants in the 10,000-square-foot facility need more space.

"We have an agreement, but the final details have not been signed," said Ron Meder, a Lockheed Martin spokesman. "It's a pretty high-tech operation especially configured for laboratory work, so we believe it would work well for the university."

Mr. Behm, who said the university is turning away about one prospective tenant a month from the incubator because of a lack of space, said the Lockheed Martin buildings will probably require some renovation for the university's purposes.

UMBC, which recently opened a $20 million, seven-story library at its Catonsville campus, will likely relocate incubator tenants In Vitro Technologies Inc., Athena Environmental Services Inc., Receptor Biology Inc. and others to the Lockheed Martin complex.

In the case of In Vitro, the technology business needs to double the 3,000 square feet it occupies in the campus incubator, Mr. Behm said.

The company will be among several incubator tenants moving to the centerpiece of the 165,000-square-foot Lockheed Martin complex, a curved, four-story building overlooking Interstate 95, or one of the smaller surrounding buildings.

Hans Meyer, the Maryland Economic Development Corp. president working to acquire the facility for UMBC, could not be reached, while David M. Gillece, a Colliers Pinkard vice president representing Lockheed Martin, referred inquiries to the company.

UMBC has no plans, according to Mr. Behm, to substitute the Lockheed Martin facility for a planned $100 million research park on campus, which has been the center of a bitter fight between the university and local residents.

The university has 10,467 students in 40 buildings on its 500-acre campus.

Lockheed Martin, which has developed aluminum alloys and micro-electronics components at the Catonsville complex since 1965, announced plans to relocate from the 30-acre complex in June.

The relocation is part of a massive downsizing that will eliminate 12,000 employees and 38 facilities worldwide. The closing of the former Martin Marietta Laboratories complex will affect 245 employees.

Lockheed Martin became the nation's largest defense contractor March, following a $10 billion merger. The combined company hopes its size and savings achieved by eliminating duplication and obsolete facilities will stave off the effects of wrenching Pentagon cutbacks.

The purchase of the four-building complex off Gun Road marks the latest acquisition by a Baltimore County university into space business had abandoned.

In September, Towson State University invested $6.35 million to buy the four-story former Citicorp Building at 7720 York Road.

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