One Charles Center funds cut in House

March 30, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

A legislative subcommittee yesterday cut $12 million from Gov. William Donald Schaefer's budget that was earmarked to buy One Charles Center, effectively killing talks aimed at the state buying the 22-story building to cut government agencies' rental bills.

The move by the health and environment subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee follows an earlier move by a Senate panel to kill the funding, meaning there is little chance the funding will be revived as the state's fiscal 1995 budget nears final form.

"If both houses cut it, [chances are] not very good at all," said Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. "If there's no difference between the houses, chances of getting anything in by compromise are zero."

The state has been talking to Metropolitan Life Co., owners of the building, and brokers CB Commercial Real Estate Services since last fall. Governor Schaefer directed the state Department of General Services to look into buying the building after Metropolitan Life bought it for only $11.5 million, or $36 a square foot, at a foreclosure auction.

The auction price was estimated at about a third of what it would cost to duplicate the 32-year-old building, which was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and was the first speculative office building constructed in Baltimore for several decades. It is the earliest building considered part of the downtown renaissance that took firmer root during the 1970s and 1980s.

State officials have been sweeping through the downtown real estate market trying to capitalize on the recession to cut costs.

The state has been buying up depressed buildings to save on rental costs down the road, including the 300,000-square-foot 6 St. Paul Centre and the 100,000-square-foot Shillman Building at 500 N. Calvert St.

"I think we've answered in a pretty irrefutable way the idea that this won't save money," said Secretary of General Services Martin W. Walsh Jr. "It's not as if they're not going to spend the 12 [million dollars]."

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