TCSecond protest filed on HCFA decisionThe joint venture...

COMMERCIAL REALTY

September 30, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney

TC

Second protest filed on HCFA decision

The joint venture that wanted to build the new headquarters for the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration downtown has filed a second protest of the U.S. General Services Administration's decision to award the $122 million deal to build the headquarters to a group that proposed a Woodlawn site.

Inner Harbor West Joint Venture, made up of the Rouse Co. of Columbia, the Henson Co. of Baltimore and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore, filed a protest with the federal General Accounting Office on Sept. 2, following up its initial Aug. 19 protest.

"There were several new issues raised," said Robert Minutoli, the Rouse executive who has worked most closely on the HCFA proposal. But he declined to discuss them.

The GSA in August said it would award the contract to a partnership of Boston Properties Inc. of Boston and James F. Knott Development Corp. of Towson.

The original appeal charged that GSA put too high a price on Inner Harbor West's proposal, that it improperly waived stated criteria for awarding the bid and that it improperly considered other criteria that weren't included when GSA solicited offers.

GSA spokesman John Thompson said the agency doesn't comment on bid protests while they are pending before the GAO.

The new protest pushes back the 90-working-day deadline the GAO faces for announcing the results of its review. The GAO now has until Jan. 14 to issue its decision.

The GAO's finding is not binding, but the GSA almost always goes along with the results of the GAO's reviews.

Spec warehouse tests struggling market

Larry Burrows is good-humored enough -- and realistic enough -- to laugh when a complete stranger calls him on the phone to ask whether he's nuts. But the Calverton-based vice president of Winchester Commercial is convinced that even a struggling real estate market is good enough for him.

Winchester last month opened the only speculative warehouse planned in the Baltimore-Washington corridor this year. The 141,600-square-foot warehouse at Meadowridge Business Park in Elkridge is only about a quarter leased, but Mr. Burrows is optimistic. After all, Winchester, a unit of Winchester Homes Inc., itself a unit of Weyerhauser Co., built three speculative warehouses at Meadowridge in 1990 -- not exactly boom times -- and all three are full now.

"The market was already beginning to change, but we've had decent success," said Mr. Burrows, who said Winchester financed the new warehouse with "internally generated Weyerhauser funds." The park also includes two other warehouses that were built to suit individual tenants.

"I'm not sure we see things in the market that other people don't," Mr. Burrows said. "We see good [longer-term] fundamentals there. There are value-oriented customers who are looking for higher-quality space."

A broker familiar with the new building says it has a good chance to work, even in the teeth of the recession. He said the project's location -- on U.S. 1 near the Route 100/I-95 interchange -- may help Winchester get first dibs on the small number of customers in the market for warehouse/industrial space.

Mr. Burrows said Amsco Sterile Recoveries Inc., a hospital supply service company, will move into the warehouse around ** Nov. 1.

Mick's restaurant to open in Towson

The first Mick's restaurant in the Baltimore area will open in about three weeks at Towson Commons, but hold on. They could expand like grains of rice in hot water.

The Atlanta restaurant chain said it doesn't get involved in markets unless it's sure the areas can support at least six Mick's.

Mick's president, Stephan Nygren, said deals for other Baltimore-area sites aren't imminent. But for a Georgia boy, he has a solid grasp of Baltimore's suburbs, reeling off a list of possible sites from White Marsh to Security Boulevard, with only a mispronunciation of Severna Park ("Sevrena Park") giving away the fact that he's from out of town. The Inner Harbor is another possibility, he said.

"We're going to go to Towson and see how everyone likes it," said Mr. Nygren. "That [expansion plan] is over the course of five or six years."

Mick's is a unit of Quantum Restaurants Inc., whose Peasant Restaurant Group runs the Pleasant Peasant restaurant in the Mazza Gallerie mall in Washington near the Montgomery County line. He said Mick's, set to open in Towson Oct. 18, is more casual than its corporate cousin.

BG&E subsidiary changes its name

Forget this name: KMS Group Inc. The Columbia-based development subsidiary of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. is now dubbed Constellation Real Estate Inc., the company said.

Constellation dropped the old name because founders K, M, and S -- Peter Kirk, Patrick McCuan and Wilbur E. Simmons -- have all long since left the firm.

KMS said the name change doesn't imply any pending change in strategy or personnel. The firm has developed local projects including the National Business Park, an office complex in Anne Arundel County; Piney Orchard, a planned community in Odenton; and Valley Centre, a shopping center in Owings Mills.

For a roundup of commercial real estate leasing activity in Maryland, see Page 14E.

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