Hillendale Square, a 30,000-square-foot office building that was severely damaged by a Memorial Day fire, is about to re-open after more than $1 million in renovations and repairs.
One of the building's largest tenants, the Maryland chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is to move into its 5,000 square feet of space Thursday.
Other previous tenants will move in later in January. The owners hope to have any unoccupied space leased by late spring.
"We're coming down the home stretch," said Cary N. Blank, managing partner of Taylor-Hillendale Limited Partnership, which owns the 30-year-old office building in the 1000 block of Taylor Ave.
The May 27 fire, a six-alarm blaze apparently started by an electrical malfunction, roared through the building's third story, destroying it entirely, said Blank.
The lower two floors were severely damaged by water, he added.
"We had to put a whole new third floor on," said Blank. "New steel, new bricks."
Because of the building's age, the newer bricks could not be matched exactly in color to the older bricks of the first two stories, said Blank.
Architects from the firm of Nelson-Salabes Inc., however, came up with a design to lessen the contrast. The new brick has been extended from the third story down columns on the rest of the building.
New windows were added to all three stories, and a new heating and air-conditioning system was installed, said Blank.
Many tenants stayed after the fire, and Blank set them up in 12 trailers on the parking lot adjacent to the burned-out building.
Blank said that he has lost some tenants, such as Pinkerton Security, but others relocated to other space his company owns.
Judith Kitz, executive director of the National Voluntary Health Agencies, said her operations continue to be affected by the fire even though the office has moved to a northwest Baltimore location owned by Taylor-Hillendale. She said the fire destroyed some personal effects, files and all the office furniture, supplies and telephones in her former third-floor quarters.
The organization's most recent files, dating from 1984 through 1991, survived in steel filing cabinets, said Kitz. But roughly 30 years worth of other files, which were stored in cardboard boxes, were destroyed.
Kitz said she still thinks about the fire, especially when she can't find something.
"Even now, I go to look for a particular item and, 'Oh, it's not there,' " she said. "It must have been lost in the fire."