IN 1994, when Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. announced it would move its headquarters from Howard County's Columbia to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the tutoring company had about 1,000 employees. It now employs some 2,450 people worldwide.
In fact, Sylvan has been growing so rapidly that it already has run out of space in the brand-new headquarters building it moved into last week. Sylvan occupies four floors and is looking for an additional 50,000 square feet of nearby office space.
Many companies have deserted Baltimore. It has been more than 20 years since a major company moved its headquarters into the city. For that reason alone, it is gratifying to welcome a new firm to town that is in the midst of dynamic growth in exploiting and developing learning and testing methods on all continents from Australia to South Africa.
Sylvan's move was prompted by the commitment of Douglas L. Becker, the company president, to his home town. At 30, Mr. Becker is one of Baltimore's emerging civic leaders. Much of his free time goes into planning Port Discovery, the innovative $27 million children's museum and learning center that is scheduled to open near the Inner Harbor in 1998.
Sylvan is the first major tenant in the Paterakis bakery interests' Inner Harbor East, a 20-acre parcel on the water's edge that is to accommodate other offices, a hotel and apartments. Nearby, AlliedSignal is spending about $90 million to clean up another 15-acre lot of chemical contamination. That parcel, with dramatic views of the harbor and downtown skyline, also is destined to become a major redevelopment site.
The recession hit the Baltimore office retail market hard. Signs of recovery now abound. Sylvan's new headquarters is a symbol of that turnaround and the continuing emphasis of redeveloping unused Inner Harbor lots for prestige purposes.
Pub Date: 12/02/96