Foundation to move base to Baltimore

March 02, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

The Annie E. Casey Foundation yesterday said that it will move its headquarters to the Mount Vernon Building at 701 St. Paul St. next September.

The Greenwich, Conn.-based foundation, the nation's biggest charity specializing in disadvantaged children's issues, said yesterday that it had signed a 10-year lease for the 52,000-square-foot building. It had announced its intention to move to Baltimore last spring.

"This is more important than an NFL team," James W. Rouse, founder of the Enterprise Foundation of Columbia, said at a City Hall news conference with Casey officials and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "We've never had a large national foundation in this city."

Mayor Schmoke and Casey Foundation Executive Director Douglas W. Nelson said the foundation and its landlord will spend $2.5 million to renovate the 29-year-old building, including a first-floor library and conference facility that will be avail

able to the public.

"They've got a home here in Baltimore," the mayor said.

Mr. Nelson said the building's location in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, home to many of the city's best restaurants, galleries and museums, was the key to the selection.

"I think it gives us access to the diverse amenities and services that drew us to Baltimore in the first place," he said. "We'll be able to make that building a really modern workplace."

The five-story building, which opened in 1965, was 92.3 percent empty in late 1993, according to a report by the real estate firm Spaulding & Slye. While Casey will initially employ only 40 at the headquarters,Mr. Nelson said the foundation wanted room to accommodate its growth plans.

The foundation leased the building for slightly more than $10 a square foot, Mr. Nelson said, though he would not give an exact figure. The low rent is indicative of the leverage big tenants have in negotiations with owners of older Class B buildings, which have been particularly hard-squeezed by the real estate industry shakeout.

The foundation was founded in 1948 by Jim Casey, one of the founders of United Parcel Service, and his siblings and named for their mother. It has assets of more than $1 billion and makes annual grants of more than $67 million.

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