MOVE TO KEEP NAACP HEADQUARTERS IN CITY

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Baltimore Development Corp. is making a push to keep the national headquarters of the NAACP in the city rather than see the civil rights organization move to Washington or Montgomery County.

Representatives of the city's economic development agency have compiled a list of more than 15 locations in Baltimore's central business district that could meet the organization's space needs and visited four of them with NAACP personnel, according to Phil Croskey, director of development for the agency's west team.

It also has offered a $500,000 grant to help cover relocation costs if it stays in Baltimore, Croskey said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has had its headquarters in Baltimore's Seton Business Park since 1986 and expressed a desire to move to a new location several years ago. In 2006, under chief executive Bruce Gordon, it announced plans to relocate to Washington, but the move never took place.

With 70 employees in Baltimore and a smaller office in Washington, the organization now has a different chief executive officer, Benjamin Jealous, and is again exploring options for a new headquarters. Besides Baltimore, it is considering sites in Washington and Silver Spring.

Croskey said the NAACP is looking for about 30,000 square feet of space and wants easy access to a train station, BWI Marshall Airport, major roads to Washington, hotels and other amenities.

Croskey declined to identify the sites that BDC has toured with NAACP representatives, but he said they are all in Baltimore's central business district and available for occupancy this year. He said many of the candidates are on the west side of Charles Street.

The NAACP owns its building in Seton Business Park and does not have a firm deadline to relocate. Croskey said he believes its directors might be preparing to make a decision in the near future, and BDC's business retention committee wants to be sure they have all the information they need about options in Baltimore that would be "cost-effective alternatives."

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