D.C. firm pulls out of Baltimore market


January 12, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

A Washington real estate firm's effort to move into the Baltimore market has fizzled. Spaulding & Slye shut its Towson commercial brokerage office and said it will close its local property management arm after it sells the two properties it oversees for Aetna Life & Casualty Co.

The move represents a victory for Colliers Pinkard of Baltimore, which was upset by Spaulding's move into the market in February. Colliers Pinkard has an agreement to be the exclusive area representative of Colliers International, a network of commercial real estate firms. Spaulding is Colliers International's Washington affiliate, and Colliers Pinkard feared that its Baltimore-area exclusivity would be threatened.

"As of Dec. 31, we asked the leasing people to leave," said Thomas Owens, executive vice president of Spaulding & Slye. Hayes Merkert, one of the two Spaulding brokers in the area, already has landed at Manekin Corp. Alex Montague, the second broker, is looking for another job.

Mr. Owens said Spaulding reached a deal with Colliers Pinkard last summer in which Spaulding agreed not to expand its Baltimore presence beyond three buildings it leased and managed for Aetna. In exchange, Colliers Pinkard waived any objection to Spaulding's working in its territory on the Aetna listings.

But Aetna has shifted gears and has decided to sell its Baltimore-area properties instead of holding on and seeking tenants, Mr. Owens said. One of the three has been sold. And the insurer has shifted its strategy on problem loans away from foreclosures in favor of working out deals that keep defaulted borrowers in charge of their projects.

"There aren't going to be any more foreclosures," Mr. Owens said.

Colliers Pinkard has taken over the leasing of the two remaining local Aetna projects -- the Court Towers building in Towson and the Columbia Business Center in Columbia. Spaulding holds the listing for trying to sell them and will manage the properties until they are sold.

David Frederick, chief operating officer of Colliers Pinkard, said the firm is happy to be taking over the two listings but does not want to comment on any dispute with Spaulding because the issue has been settled.

Area construction gained in November

The region's construction industry continued its modest recovery in November, with building permits rising for both residential and commercial projects, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council reported yesterday.

Permits for single-family homes rose 43.8 percent from November 1992, multifamily housing rose 27.9 percent and the value of permits for nonresidential construction jumped 91.7 percent. Local counties and Baltimore gave permission for $309 million of new nonresidential construction, up from $209 million in November 1992.

The news is encouraging because building permits are a leading indicator of overall economic performance.

"The nonresidential market is on the upswing, and increases will continue to be seen, albeit slowly, over the next few years," said Josef Nathanson, an economist for the council.

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