Columbia Association seeking tenant for free office space WEST COLUMBIA

April 28, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

The Columbia Association (CA) is searching for a nonprofit group that serves a citywide constituency for a deal that will be hard to refuse -- free office space in downtown Columbia.

About 130 square feet of office space and a secretarial alcove are available in the Columbia Association Building on Wincopin Circle in a wing where several other nonprofit groups serving Columbia share information and resources.

The nonprofit association that operates Columbia's recreational facilities and runs community service programs is offering the space as an in-kind donation.

The association receives no tax benefits from the donation, said Pam Mack, CA's vice president of community relations.

The Columbia Festival of the Arts, which will sponsor its annual downtown festival from June 18 to 27, is one of the nonprofit groups that is saving money through use of the office space and CA's equipment and resources.

The organizations pay for using equipment, such as facsimile and copying machines, but are spared from buying their own.

"It makes it possible to provide the services we do," said Lynne Nemeth, the festival's managing director. "One of the best functions of CA is its community service aspect. Supporting nonprofits is a big part of that."

Other nonprofit groups benefiting from the office space donation are the Columbia Foundation, a broad-based community foundation that raises money for grants to Howard County human service, cultural and educational organizations; Columbia Birthday Celebration, which runs the annual City Fair; Columbia Archives; and the Columbia Council. The nonprofit wing is part of CA's Welcome and Information Center.

The Columbia Forum, a group studying Columbia's future, vacated the now-available office space because it no longer has full-time staff.

The grouping of nonprofit organizations "sort of functions as a town hall" for Columbia and helps identify the city, Ms. Nemeth said.

The donation of space and associated resources provides the shoestring-budget nonprofits intangible benefits as well as savings, said Barbara Lawson, executive director of the Columbia Foundation.

"It's unbelievable. It's not like something you can quantify," Ms. Lawson said. "The proximity to downtown businesses and the ability for people to drop in readily enhances the whole community flow."

Office space in Columbia ranges from about $15 per square foot in older, low-rise buildings to $20 per square foot in "nice buildings" in Town Center, said Allan Riorda, an associate with KLNB Inc. in Columbia, a commercial real estate firm.

At those rates, 130 square feet would cost about $2,500 annually to lease, though few office spaces that small are leased, Mr. Riorda said.

To qualify, nonprofit organizations must be registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status; serve a citywide constituency; and have at least one full-time, year-round employee. The group should represent Columbia's "diverse activities and interests."

Applicants should send letters of interest by May 5 describing the organization, its staffing and how it serves Columbia to: Pamela Mack, The Columbia Association Inc., 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia 21044.

For information, call 715-3120.

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