The state's economic development chief said yesterday that he is "reasonably positive" that a deal can be struck to keep Marriott International Inc.'s headquarters and 3,000 employees in Maryland.
Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Richard C. Mike Lewin's comments stemmed from an afternoon meeting with the Bethesda-based hotel company, in which the two sides discussed the future of Marriott's offices for the first time.
"We had a serious exchange and we're in the process of assessing their needs so that we can make them a full and fair offer," Lewin said, after the 90-minute meeting with Marriott's treasurer.
"I came away reasonably positive that we can put together a deal."
Marriott is evaluating six sites in Maryland and Virginia for the site of a new $144 million headquarters in response to employment additions and the lodging's industry's skyrocketing growth of the past four years.
Marriott hopes to make a decision on a future headquarters by the end of March.
The decision, the company has acknowledged, will depend in large part on the amount of financial incentives such as tax credits and construction financing that each state is able to provide.
"We had a meeting with state officials and we had a useful discussion," said Nicholas A. Hill, a Marriott spokesman.
In recent years, Marriott Chairman J. W. Marriott Jr. has criticized Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the state for a "stifling" business climate.
Marriott requires a new headquarters because it has outgrown its current offices in Montgomery County, located in a 775,000-square-foot building in Bethesda.
The company's primary office has been in the six-story building at 10400 Fernwood Road for two decades, and its lease there expires in 2004.
The company expects that it will need roughly 1 million square feet of office space, with options on another 200,000 square feet. At that size, the complex would be more than twice as big as the 35-story Legg Mason Tower at 100 Light St.
Marriott is expected to provide the state with job-creation, capital-expenditure and other data next week that will help the state formulate an incentive package, Lewin said.
"My sense is that they are leaving their options open," Lewin said. "I think, too, that we have a very good shot at keeping them in Maryland. We're going to do the best for them we can, while remaining consistent with our other missions."
Marriott, which generates more than $10 billion a year in sales, said three years ago that it planned to add 120,000 rooms to its portfolio by 2000.
Pub Date: 12/17/98