Fast-growing mutual-fund manager T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. is shifting 175 technology support workers to the St. Paul Plaza office building, creating more elbow room in its Pratt Street headquarters and setting the stage for the addition of 200 new downtown jobs.

Price intends to eventually employ 375 people at St. Paul Plaza, five blocks north from Pratt Street, to coordinate technology for trading and managing securities, said spokesman Steve Norwitz. The lease, in the building owned by developer David W. Kornblatt, is for five years.

After that, "we don't know what's going to happen, whether they're going to stay downtown or move out to Owings Mills eventually," Norwitz said.

T. Rowe Price employs 1,200 downtown and 1,030 in Owings Mills, and it has the enviable problem of growing so fast that its real estate agents can barely keep up.

Since the end of 1995, Price has been shoveling almost $2 billion a month into its stock and bond funds, as investors have hitched on to the securities market's wild ascent. Price had $103 billion in assets under management at the end of March.

With every added billion-dollar layer, Price needs more computer space, better trading programs, new phone reps, new phone capacity, new technology experts and extra square footage.

The company is adding space in Owings Mills, but that won't be ready until September. Meanwhile, Pratt Street is swelling at its seams, and Price needs space sooner, Norwitz said. As a result, the company's Integrated Systems and Technology unit will start occupying St. Paul Plaza, at St. Paul and Lexington streets, on June 1.

"The reason they're moving out is to free up space for other departments on Pratt Street," he said. "We're going to move about 175 employees to this new, St. Paul location, and we plan to hire another 200 employees over the next two years."

The St. Paul Plaza space -- 63,450 square feet of it -- is one of the biggest pieces of contiguous "Class A" office space to change tenants recently downtown. Taking up the top three floors of the 28-story building, the offices are being vacated by federal customs officials. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Kornblatt called the lease "a clear vote of confidence" for downtown Baltimore, which had an office vacancy rate of about 20 percent at the end of 1996. St. Paul Plaza is now 99 percent leased, he said.

Downtown, which is home to about 100,000 jobs, has been hurt by business defections and downsizings in recent years, such as insurer USF&G; Corp.'s decision to move its headquarters to a campus partially in northern Baltimore and partially in Baltimore County. But downtown's office market has been bolstered by recent relocations by Bell Atlantic Corp., McDonald's Corp. and Crestar Financial Corp.

Pub Date: 4/25/97

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad