The Hecht Co.'s former flagship department store at Howard and Lexington streets quietly changed hands earlier this year and is now owned by Petrie Dierman and Partners, a development firm based in McLean, Va.
James Abrams, a spokesman for the May Co., Hecht's parent, confirmed that the 300,000-square-foot Hecht's building was sold to Petrie Dierman but would not disclose the price. He referred questions about the property to developer Walt Petrie, who could not be reached for comment.
Hecht's opened the eight-level building in 1925 and closed it in January 1989, joining the exodus of downtown department stores that over the past 15 years also has included branches of Hochschild Kohn & Co., Stewart's and Hutzler's.
Several years before its closing, Hecht's converted the building's upper three floors to offices, which are leased to the city of Baltimore through 1993. After the store closed, May put the building up for sale for about $11 million.
According to a sign in the building lobby, the city space has been subleased to a variety of tenants, including the city's Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, the State of Maryland Infants and Toddlers program and Baltimore City Fair Inc.
John Hentschel, real estate officer for the city, said the building is one of several under consideration as possible new sites for the headquarters of the city Police Department, now in the 500 block of East Fayette Street.
Development officials in Baltimore have been working to turn the area around Lexington Market into a government center, with offices for city, state and federal office workers. Planners say they think the state's 27-mile light-rail system, which will run along a portion of Howard Street, will make the area more attractive to prospective office tenants.