Construction of Odenton office building begins Hopkins Health System has signed on as tenant at Winmark Center II

June 03, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

Despite what its developer acknowledges are "tough economic times," work began Friday on Winmark Office Center II, the first major commercial office building to be built in Anne Arundel County since 1991.

The two-story, 40,000-square-foot building, developed and managed by AJ Properties, should be completed by late October near the Winmark I building in Odenton.

"In 1989, when we finished building the 25,000-square-foot Winmark I, we had designed plans for an additional building," AJ President Jay Winer said. "But the market has been very soft and there were no potential tenants then, so we had to hold off plans until now."

Mr. Winer said construction of Winmark II became feasible when the Johns Hopkins Health System signed on as tenants. Hopkins will lease at least 12,000 square feet for an internal medicine, pediatrics and family practice outlet, he said.

"When you're building for a specific user's needs and they are really interested in a specific location, then it isn't quite so difficult to get started on the building process, despite the soft market of the past," Mr. Winer said.

"Hopkins . . . was really interested in the Odenton area and said they might end up expanding to almost 50 percent of the office space.

"We had these office plans ready since 1989, we only had to revise them to accommodate Hopkins' needs," he said.

Mr. Winer said his firm is working with possible tenants associated with Hopkins.

"There will be room for general office space, but we're hoping most of the new tenants will be medically related," Mr. Winer said.

The two-year lull in office building construction resulted from a combination of factors, including the large number of buildings constructed in the 1980s and the reluctance of banks to lend money for construction, said Lynn D. Palmer, business location consultant for the county's Office of Economic Development.

"Much of what was vacant before has been absorbed, so there is a market for new space now," Ms. Palmer said.

The vacancy rate for the county's office buildings is 16 percent, down from last year's 18 percent, she said.

With the addition of Winmark Office Center II, places like Odenton are feeling the results of a growing market, Mr. Winer said.

Ms. Palmer agreed.

"There is more demand in Odenton and more awareness of the Odenton area in the Baltimore-Washington corridor for office building," she said. "This could be a result of the MARC rail line, TC the opening up of Route 32 and the development of planned communities in the area like Piney Orchard and Seven Oaks."

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