Unable to move to the Trammell Crow Co.'s One Light Street office tower because construction hasn't started yet, principals of the law firm of Shapiro and Olander have opted to relocate to the 30-story Commerce Place tower.
Representatives of the Harlan Co., part of the joint venture building the $90 million Commerce Place tower at Baltimore and South streets, said the law firm has signed a letter of intent to lease the 22nd and 23rd floors of the building -- about 42,000 square feet of space -- and to take occupancy by Sept. 1, 1992.
The decision is a setback for Trammell Crow, whose 44-story One Light Street tower has been planned to be Baltimore's tallest building. Trammell Crow announced more than a year ago that Shapiro and Olander had signed a letter of intent to lease two floors in that building, making it the first and only tenant committed to lease space there. Company officials say they need to pre-lease more space before they can begin construction.
The switch is a boost for the leasing efforts of Harlan and its partner, Kajima Development Corp., because it gives them a second large tenant for Commerce Place. The architectural firm of RTKL Associates Inc. was the first. The 42,000-square-foot lease is one of the largest negotiated in downtown Baltimore this year and makes the 460,000-square-foot building nearly one-third leased.
"We are delighted to welcome one of Baltimore's most distinguished law firms to our building," said Harlan Chairman Leonard Harlan. "Shapiro and Olander is precisely the kind of sophisticated and demanding high-end office user for whom we designed Commerce Place."
Christopher Dean Olander, managing partner of the law firm, said that the firm notified its landlord at 36 S. Charles Street that it intended to move out between September 1992 and April 1993. When it became clear Trammell Crow's building would not be ready by then, he said, the firm had to begin making other arrangements.
The move "will come at just the right time for us," Mr. Olander added. "The new building will accommodate the continuing growth and momentum of the firm and will further enhance the high level of service we provide our clients. Our letter of intent with Harlan and Kajima also symbolizes our commitment to Baltimore's future."
An agreement between Trammell Crow and Shapiro and Olander allowed the law firm to make other arrangements if work wasn't under way on One Light Street by Sept. 1, 1991.
Dirk Mosis, the partner in charge of Trammell Crow's Baltimore office, said he released the law firm from any obligation to wait until Sept. 1 because it was clear that construction wouldn't begin by then.
"They've been great to work with and we hate to lose them, but they needed to get moving," he said.
Trammell Crow is seeking tenants to enable the One Light Street project to move ahead, he added. Shapiro and Olander's decision "doesn't make or break One Light Street," Mr. Mosis said. " I wish we could have kept them, but it doesn't change anything we're doing."
Construction on Commerce Place is now up to the 22nd floor, and the building is slated for completion in the late spring of 1992. Manekin Corp. was the leasing agent for Shapiro and Olander, which negotiated a 10-year lease.
Founded in 1972 by Mr. Olander and Ronald M. Shapiro, a close adviser to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, the law firm has 35 attorneys and five legal assistants and occupies two floors containing 24,000 square feet in the Charles Center South tower. That building is often referred to as the "Piper and Marbury building" because of the large law firm that occupies most of it.