Kajima International, general contractor of the 30-story Commerce Place now under construction downtown, has been selected to build its second high-rise in Baltimore, the first residential tower of the $600 million HarborView community off Key Highway.
The U.S. subsidiary of one of the world's largest construction companies, with headquarters in Japan, Kajima International was selected earlier this month over four other companies that submitted bids to serve as general contractor for the above-ground portion of the 27-story tower, called 100 HarborView Drive.
"The winning bidder was Kajima," said Tom Marudas, vice president of HarborView Properties Development Co. "The numbers were very close, but we have awarded the bid to them and we are looking at doing a formal, contract signing in January."
The selection of a general contractor is a sign that the HarborView development team, headed by Baltimore businessman Richard Swirnow and Parkway Holdings Ltd. of Singapore, is intent on proceeding with the construction of its first building despite the slowdown in the economy. As of yesterday, approximately 80 of the 254 residences had been put under contract or reserved since marketing began in September.
Kajima's bid was not disclosed, but it makes up a substantial percentage of the tower's cost, which has been put at about $90 million. Porter Brothers Construction Co. began work in the fall on the foundation and underground parking component of the tower.
A subsidiary of Kajima Corp., Kajima International is based in Fort Lee, N.J., and has been active in the United States for 26 years. It opened a Baltimore office at Water and Commerce streets in 1988 to prepare for the construction of Commerce Place and has been seeking to expand its activities in the Baltimore area, said senior project manager Richard L. Janec.
"It's a big thing for us," he said. "Every job you can get these days, with the economy the way it is, means very much. We went after it. We wanted it very badly."
Commerce Place and 100 HarborView Drive are the only two buildings in Baltimore that are being constructed with financing from Asian lenders and have co-developers with ties to Asia.
Funds for HarborView are coming from a consortium of lenders from Asia and Australia, and the prime lender for Commerce Place is Kyowa Bank Ltd. 6, one of the largest banks in Japan. Commerce Place is being developed by the Harlan Co. of New York and Kajima Development Corp., an affiliate of Kajima International.
Mr. Marudas said it is a coincidence that Kajima was selected to build both projects and that the company had no edge because of its Asian connection. "They just bid it like everyone else," he said. "There was a lot of discussion about everybody, and it was highly competitive. They won it on their merits."
Other bidders included Donohoe Construction Co. of Washington, Foulger-Pratt Construction Co. of Rockville, Tiber Construction Co. of Northern Virginia and Glen Construction Co. of Gaithersburg.
Mr. Marudas said he expects Kajima to begin work on the site in mid-March, once Porter Brothers finishes its contract, and to complete work in the fall of 1992.
Mr. Kajec said Kajima will establish an on-site office with about 12 employees to oversee construction. He also said that 150 to 200 workers will be on the site once all the subcontractors are selected and begin work.