The Farm Credit Bank of Baltimore is preparing to sell its Baltimore County headquarters as part of a planned merger with a sister institution in South Carolina.
The bank's three-story building and surrounding 120 acres is notable because it represents one of the largest existing office properties to come on the market in the past five years.
Real estate analysts expect the state's largest agricultural lender will receive at least $12 million for the Sparks headquarters building and adjacent land, based on recent comparable sales. Bank officials said they had not yet determined a value for the 100,000-square-foot building and surrounding land.
"With the likelihood of the merger, we find ourselves with a beautiful building that we don't need," said Reider J. White, a Farm Credit vice president. "We're not in the real estate business, we're in the business of making agricultural loans."
The Farm Credit Bank began exploring options for disposition of the 13-year-old facility after an agreement in August to merge with the Farm Credit Bank of Columbia, S.C. The new bank, which will serve 15 states, has assets of $9.2 billion and $8 billion in loans outstanding. It will be based in Columbia, S.C.
As a result, the Farm Credit Bank of Baltimore is expected to close its headquarters operations. Customers will be largely unaffected because branch operations are expected to remain open.
The Farm Credit Bank of Baltimore's board is slated to vote on the final merger documents at the end of next month. If the board accepts the terms of the agreement, the pairing would take place in April, Mr. White said.
The bank has retained Casey & Associates Inc. to market the 14114 York Road property to prospective buyers who will occupy the facility, as well as investors. Bank officials cited Casey's alliance with the Oncor International real estate network as one of the key reasons for hiring the firm.
Michael P. O'Field, a Farm Credit vice president, said the bank intends to sell the building and the property as a package.
"The biggest challenge will be to find someone who requires that size a facility and who needs that much acreage," said Richard F. Blue Jr., a Casey executive vice president.
Although the surrounding 120 acres is zoned for both office and light industrial development, not all the property is usable, and Casey will begin marketing the property to office-oriented users, Mr. O'Field said. The bank also will be sensitive, he said, to the concerns of community groups, which have expressed opposition to many development plans. Community leaders could not be reached for comment.
The Farm Credit Bank's headquarters marks the second major bank building in the area to become available in recent months, the result of an industry consolidation that has killed jobs and resulted in excess space.
In November, Citicorp began marketing its former 120,000-square-foot credit card operations center in Towson for
$7.75 million, according to Robert A. Manekin, a senior managing director of Julien J. Studley Inc., the New York-based real estate firm handling the sale.
Citicorp closed the 7720 York Road facility and eliminated 300 jobs this year as part of a consolidation with its operations in Hagerstown.
The Farm Credit and Citicorp buildings represent virtually the only two Baltimore County office projects with more than 100,000 square feet of available space, a factor that is expected to become a focal point in Casey's campaign.
The Farm Credit bank had relocated to Sparks in 1981 to accommodate expansion after selling its columned 2315 St. Paul St. building.