Dorsey Search projects take special aim

Commercial real estate

October 15, 1990|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,Evening Sun Staff

Two office complexes in the Dorsey Search section of Columbia might best be described as professional buildings with themes.

One, a $6.4 million, two-story structure called Crossroads Professional Center, is currently under construction and is designed to house medical practitioners. The facility is slated for completion next spring.

John Troutman, president of Troutman Co. and the developer of Crossroads, said the new office building should offer Columbia area residents an alternative to traveling to the Howard County General Hospital area in downtown Columbia, where most of the city's medical professional buildings are currently located.

Crossroads is located on Dorsey Hall Drive and has as its main tenant the Catonsville-based Saint Agnes Hospital, which will be establishing its first clinic in Columbia there. The hospital hopes its proximity to Ellicott City will draw a clientele from an area beyond Columbia.

The building, which is 60 percent leased, will also house a variety of other medical offices, Troutman said.

"Our hope is to provide a certain sense of collegiality among medical practitioners," he added.

Another project, also on Dorsey Hall Drive, will house insurance industry firms. Developed by Consolidated Home Builders, the two buildings with 20,000 and 25,000 square feet of office space are each 100 percent leased, said Consolidated Vice President Drew Sikorski.

Sikorski declined to give the names of the tenants, preferring a formal announcement at a later date, he said. Both buildings are slated for completion either later this year or early next year. A third, adjacent building by Consolidated is planned. But the firm is hoping to pre-lease the building before construction begins, Sikorski added.

The two professional centers are not the only recent additions to the Dorsey Search commercial area.

A Hardees restaurant and a Mobil gas station are currently under construction as part of the Dorsey Search Village Center, which opened a year ago and houses a Giant Food store and several smaller establishments, including Crown Books, Splendippity Ice Cream and Chevy Chase Bank.

All of the Dorsey Search commercial buildings have had to adhere to strict architectural guidelines developed by the Rouse Corp. The guidelines require all masonry construction, and many of the buildings are either small village type structures with peaked roofs and archways, or large, sparsely appointed Georgian-style buildings.

Early indications are that the village center has been a success, with Giant reporting sales 20 percent above projections for its first year at the location. Other stores also have reported better than expected profits.

Elsewhere, sales may be slower.

At Crossroads, Troutman said fears about the economy that have affected residential sales also are affecting office leasing.

"We do feel that we do have solid interest in our building," Troutman said, noting Crossroads is 60 percent leased. "But there does seem to be a bit more reluctance on the part of potential tenants to sign up."

Troutman said the company is allowing tenants to share in the buildings' long-term equity as a incentive for signing contracts.

Elsewhere along Dorsey Hall Drive, the softening economy appears not to have hurt.

Construction is continuing on Dorsey Hall Professional Park, a cluster of two-story office buildings being sold as condominiums for up to $230,000.

Four buildings have been completed and one is currently under construction and scheduled for first occupancy later this year, said Michael Cavey, general manager of the project. Ultimately, seven buildings are planned for the site and should be completed by 1992, he said.

Cavey said the bank financing the professional park has expressed delight with the pace of sales there, noting that other projects have not fared as well of late.

Officials at the Rouse Corp., which owns the land at Dorsey Search, said other commercial buildings are planned for the site but that the company currently can not project how many would be built there or when groundbreaking would begin.

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