Tower's expansion approved

September 18, 1990

The owners of 6 St. Paul Centre have been given permission to enlarge seven floors of the nearly vacant downtown office tower in hopes that added space might make the building more attractive to potential tenants.

The Baltimore Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals granted a zoning variance requested by developer S/A Associates of New York that allows the sloping tower to be "squared off" to make floors 17 through 23 the same size as the first 16 floors. The top six floors of the 29-story building, which jut like a needle above the building, would not be altered.

If the work is done, it would add 26,520 square feet of space.

The office tower currently contains 304,000 square feet of space, but approximately 80 percent of it is vacant.

S/A Associates had approached the board when the U.S. General Services Administration was considering the tower for government offices. The GSA subsequently chose another project for its offices, but the developers of 6 St. Paul Centre nevertheless decided to go ahead with its request for a variance.

"We wanted to keep our options open," said Stephen Goldberg, a lawyer with Gallagher, Evelius and Jones, which represents the developers.

The board heard the request last week and sent notification yesterday that the variance had been granted.

The developers say the project has been slow to lease for a number of reasons. The project was built to be the headquarters of the now defunct Merritt Commercial Savings and Loan, and was tainted by the Maryland savings and loan crisis, they say.

But they also blame the small floors as another reason that the building has been hard to lease. By enlarging the upper floors, the developers say they hope tenants will find the project more attractive.

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