Schaefer budget includes $20 million to buy offices STATE HOUSE REPORT

January 22, 1993|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer's budget proposal includes $20 million for the state's Department of General Services to continue buying office space, an initiative designed to consolidate state offices and save money on long-term rent.

"It moves us very nicely into the new fiscal year," said Martin W. Walsh Jr., secretary of general services. "I'll use the 20 [million dollars], assuming it goes through the General Assembly, to acquire buildings and then to do the fit-up," -- renovations to make the space usable by the state.

The state appropriated $13 million for office acquisition in the Baltimore area during fiscal 1993, which ends June 30, and General Services advertised for up to 300,000 square feet in downtown Baltimore. The state is within weeks of signing contracts to buy its first property under the plan, Mr. Walsh said.

While the buildings are likely to be relatively cheap, renovation costs would probably be high because the state is looking primarily at older, Class B buildings.

The state's top choices in the current round of proposals are believed to be the Munsey Building at 7 N. Calvert St., 6 St. Paul Centre at 6 St. Paul St., and the Shillman Building at 500 N. Calvert St.

The three of them together are worth about $26 million, based on last year's tax assessments of the Munsey Building and 6 St. Paul and a 1991 private sale of the Shillman building. But the Munsey Building and 6 St. Paul, both of which have extremely high vacancy rates, are likely to be available for much less than the fair market value estimated by tax assessors. The Shillman building is also mostly vacant and sold for much less than its tax assessment in 1991.

The three buildings together have almost 600,000 square feet, enough to replace about 60 percent of the Baltimore-area space that the state rents for central operating functions for state agencies.

Mr. Walsh has refused to say which buildings are finalists, confirming only that he is working with a short list of fewer than a half-dozen buildings.

He has said some competitors for the state's business have been cutting prices aggressively as the selection draws nearer.

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