Anshen + Allen catches 'total quality' wave
Only a month after a merger, the San Francisco architecture firm Anshen + Allen is putting its mark on its new Baltimore affiliate, the old Hord Coplan Macht of Charles Village. The first step: a three-day series of seminars in Total Quality Management for the new principals and their staff.
"Anshen + Allen has been working on TQD (Total Quality Design) for some time," said Ed Hord, a new Anshen + Allen principal. "A lot of what I got out of it was communication with my fellow employees. I want their suggestions, but if I don't tell them I want suggestions they may not know it's OK."
Total Quality Management is a current buzzword among manufacturing managers, who note how well it has served Japanese companies. Some professionals -- notably lawyers -- have questioned whether it is relevant to professional service companies. Mr. Hord says it is.
"There are a lot of people who are involved in our service . . . and it's all a process," said Mr. Hord, who believes his firm is the first local architecture shop to embrace TQM. "If we can make our process work better, we can save a lot of time."
Area's office market shows improvement
As you read this, your kids are rifling through the holiday presents you thought you had hidden. In the spirit of the occasion, we offer year-end vacancy numbers for the metropolitan office market -- a week or so early.
It wasn't such a bad a year after all, according to the "year-end" report released yesterday by Casey & Associates, the Baltimore real estate brokerage firm. One reason: Big leases by government tenants helped make up for weak private demand.
The regional vacancy rate rose to 19.4 percent, from 18.9 percent at the end of last year, because of the addition of new buildings such as Commerce Place and the expansion of 100 E. Pratt St. downtown and One West Pennsylvania at Towson Commons in Towson, said Thomas C. Jackson, director of market research for Casey & Associates.
But the numbers Mr. Jackson found most encouraging were in absorption. The city absorbed 221,797 square feet, led by the decision to move police headquarters to an empty building on Howard Street. The Anne Arundel County market absorbed 262,439 square feet -- all but 22,000 thanks to a single National Security Agency lease at One National Business Park in Annapolis Junction.
"Showing significant signs of recovery, the total Baltimore metropolitan market had a positive net absorption of 422,413 square feet," the report said. "This is especially encouraging when one considers that the market lost over 300,000 square feet in the same period during 1991."
While Baltimore's Class B market and the BWI corridor were
up, Hunt Valley was down. Class A vacancies in the I-83 north corridor shot to 40 percent, hammered by defections by Westinghouse Electric Corp. and by Black & Decker Corp.
Downtown's Class A space -- which Casey defines as any downtown building newer than 30-year-old One Charles Center -- actually lost about 153,000 square feet of space, hurt by the collapse of Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman and by CSX Corp.'s decision to move some operations to Florida.
Downtown's gains came in older, Class B buildings, led by the police department deal and Maryland National Mortgage Corp.'s lease at the Candler Building.
Next year, the big federal deals that helped the 1992 market are going to be a thing of the past. But Mr. Jackson said the state Department of General Services, which is on the prowl for up to 300,000 square feet of downtown space, could replace Uncle Sam's performance as Santa Claus.
"If it pulls 6 St. Paul Centre off the market, that would be a huge nut," he said. 6 St. Paul, the old Merritt Commercial Savings & Loan tower, has been nearly empty for more than seven years.
IGC to spin off Puerto Rico track
Holders of Interstate General Co. L.P. got a little holiday bonus yesterday when the company announced plans to spin off its Puerto Rico horse racing track. Shares in the El Comandante track will be distributed to IGC unit holders in the second quarter of next year.
IGC's units, which are a limited partnership's equivalent of shares of stock, rose $1.125 to $4.375 per unit after the announcement.
IGC owns 80 percent of the track, with local partners holding the remaining 20 percent. Only IGC's stake will be distributed to unit holders; Puerto Rican investors will retain the rest of the new company.
Gregory TenEyck, spokesman for the Charles County-based developer and home building company, said the track is several miles away from another San Juan area parcel controlled by IGC, where the company plans a $500 million, 2,900-home planned community.
Signet Bank buys building at auction
Signet Bank/Maryland on Monday bought the building at 1001 Cathedral St. at auction for $700,000 after the developer defaulted on a loan from Signet.
Only 3,000 square feet of the 24,000 square foot building is leased, said R. Andrew Stafford, an auctioneer at Atlantic Auctions Inc., which handled the sale. Still, there was active bidding on the property, he said.
Mr. Stafford said the former owners owed Signet more than $1 million. Signet declined comment.