For the Steamship Trade Association, moving to Fells Point has been a bit like coming home.
The maritime business organization, which had previously occupied downtown offices at 32 South St., returned to its roots recently by moving to the Swann's Wharf building in the 900 block of Fell Street.
The association is holding an open house on July 17 at its new offices near the waterfront.
The move follows a trend for some businesses to move away from the downtown area to locations nearer marine terminals.
David Gillece, president of the Baltimore Economic Development Corp., agreed that a number of maritime firms in recent years have gravitated away from the downtown area. But Gillece said the migration has been minor and does not represent a "general exodus" from downtown.
"I don't think it's a trend that speaks to general market conditions," said Gillece, adding that downtown has not been hurt by the shift.
"I think for the businesses that have moved, it's been a competitive rent decision and, in some cases, it has taken them closer to their business," he said.
"It made more sense in terms of convenience for our members," said Association President Maurice Byan, explaining that many of the group's 37 members had already moved to the Fell's Point area.
The move will make it easier for those members to attend the group's frequent meetings, he said. There is also free parking, which was not possible downtown, Byan said.
In addition, the organization's rent is cheaper than at its downtown offices.
Fell's Point has "finally established itself as an alternative building address to downtown," said David W. Baird, vice president of marketing for Belts Realty, which owns and operates Swann's Wharf and several other Fells Point buildings.
Baird said that rents at the company's Fells Point properties tend to be the equivalent of rents for Class B office space downtown.
With the Swann's Wharf building, Baird said, tenants are not only getting lower rent, they are getting "historic, artsy space" that includes exposed-brick walls and wood-beam ceilings.
Built in 1850 by Thomas Swann, who was once chairman of the B&O Railroad and mayor of Baltimore, Swann's Wharf was originally a warehouse. Still, the building had a varied past.
During the Civil War, Baird said, Swann's was converted into a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. The building's second-floor windows are still covered by the prison bars from The following are leasing transactions handled by the firm of Casey & Associates Inc.
* Interchecks Inc. has leased 24,064 square feet of warehouse space at 9006 Yellow Brick Road in Towson.
* Brinks Inc., an amored-vehicle operations firm, has leased 15,130 square feet of warehouse space at 3610 Commerce Drive in Baltimore County.
The following real estate transactions were handled by the real estate firm of Manis Wright Realty.
* Marketing Services Associates, a sales and marketing firm, has leased 1,850 square feet of space at Yacht Haven on 222 Severn Avenue in Annapolis.
* IDT Marine, a Silicon Valley based high-tech firm, has leased 1,350 square feet of office space at the Horn Point building on 6th Street
* The National Institute for the Christian Family, which provide training and seminars for clergy and lay leaders, has leased 1,245 square feet of space on Route 450 at the Courtyards in Annapolis.
* The Maryland Department of Fiscal Services has sub-leased 1,750 square feet of office space at 77 West Street in Annapolis.