Jan. put chill on construction permits


March 09, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

People who think the cold weather in January messed with their work, take heart: The cold hit the construction business even harder.

The value of building permits for nonresidential construction fell 61 percent in January, compared to the relatively strong performance (by 1990s standards) in January 1993, according to a report by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

Permits for additions and renovations to existing commercial buildings fell 18.2 percent.

"I assumed it [affected permits] in the same way it slowed business generally," council economist Josef Nathanson said. State officials said last week that the cold, snow and ice also affected manufacturing businesses sufficiently to help boost the state's unemployment rate in January.

Despite the weather, permits for single-family homes fell only 3 percent. "The fact that the comparable for last year was only


&TC percent higher may be an encouraging sign," Mr. Nathanson said.

As in recent months, government and institutions ordered many of the biggest commercial construction jobs in January. The biggest permit taken out in Baltimore was for a $3 million addition to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the biggest in Anne Arundel County was for a $1.1 million residential facility at the state mental hospital at Crownsville.

Nonetheless, private companies -- especially MCI Communications Corp. -- provided the biggest pieces of construction work in other counties. MCI is building a $2.3 million equipment building in Lansdowne that represents the second-biggest permit approved in Baltimore County in January. MCI is also doing $1.5 million worth of interior renovations to its data center on Carsons Run Road, the biggest piece of work approved in Harford County.

The biggest permit in Baltimore County was for that rarest of birds these days -- an office building. St. Charles Associates wants to build a $2.5 million, 42,000-square-foot building at the Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville, the largest office building to be built in Baltimore County in several years.

Howard County's biggest permit was for a new Petsmart store at the Gateway Commerce Center in Columbia. Carroll County's biggest permit was for a $350,000 Wendy's restaurant in the Carrolltowne Center in Eldersburg.

Distressed property auction minus one?

Carey Winston Co. of Chevy Chase and DeCaro Real Estate Inc. of Seaford, Del., are set to hold their second annual mega-auction of distressed Washington-Baltimore real estate March 22, but they may lose the only Baltimore-area property up for bid before the auction starts.

That's because Chevy Chase Savings Bank reached an agreement to sell two office buildings at the Centre Park complex in Columbia to Consumers First Mortgage Inc. of Columbia. The two buildings total 67,000 square feet, and belonged to developers Peter Kirk and Wilbur Simmons before the bank took them back in 1991.

The sale is expected to close March 18, DeCaro vice president James Kazunas said.

The remaining 29 properties in the auction will go up for bid at the Stouffer hotel in Crystal City, Alexandria, Va., at 1 p.m. Most of the properties are vacant land.

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