Glendening to work 2 days a week in city

January 11, 1995|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Harold Jackson contributed to this article.

Parris N. Glendening, who next week is to become the first Maryland governor from the Washington suburbs in more than a century, says he plans to spend at least two work days a week in Baltimore once the General Assembly session is over.

Mr. Glendening also indicated he is likely to move the governor's Baltimore office from the state office complex at 301 W. Preston St. and set up shop instead in the William Donald Schaefer Tower, the recently renamed former Merritt Tower at 6 St. Paul St.

Mr. Glendening's transition team has occupied offices on the 22nd floor of the state-owned office building for the past two months, and the governor-elect has apparently fallen in love with the downtown building's view of the Inner Harbor.

Compared with Preston Street, which he described in a meeting with editors of The Sun this week as a typical governmental monolith that was dull, boring and depressing, he said the glitzy, 28-story Schaefer Tower would be a great place to entertain business executives looking to build or expand operations in Maryland.

"One of Parris' main priorities is the stimulation of the economy, and he feels his presence in the business community is another kind of graphic demonstration of where he has his priorities," said Glendening spokesman Tim Ayres.

"Baltimore is the state's principal city, so it does make sense for the governor to spend some time there," said Champe C. McCulloch, president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

"The opportunity to show to business people some of the economic potential of Baltimore City is one that is very important to the state. We won't solve the economic ills of the state without solving the economic ills of Baltimore City," he said.

Mr. Ayres also said Mr. Glendening's presence in the city should help ease concerns about the priorities of a governor from the Washington suburbs.

"He does feel it is necessary to communicate to the Baltimore area that he is working for the entire state and that he still realizes he is somewhat of an unknown presence in the Baltimore community," Mr. Ayres said.

Mr. McCulloch said, "Whether this turns out to be more than symbolic remains to be seen, but there seems to be very little to be lost and much to be gained, so let's give it a whirl."

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke said, "I think it's great that the governor is coming home to Baltimore." She noted that Gov. William Donald Schaefer spent a couple days each week in Baltimore as well, but said he was from Baltimore, knew the city and the city knew him.

"It's important that the governor-elect will be coming to where his margin of victory occurred and where the action is in Maryland," Ms. Clarke said. "I think you get more business done walking down the street in Baltimore than anywhere else in the state."

She said Mr. Glendening has always been accessible, but said, "I'm glad he's going to be accessible next door. It saves gas."

The state purchased the copper-colored Merritt Tower last year for $12.2 million and renamed it in September after Mr. Schaefer. It was built by Merritt Commercial Savings & Loan, one of the high-flying S&Ls that collapsed in 1985, plunging the state into a prolonged financial crisis.

For years, the building remained mostly vacant, but since the state purchased it, about 90 percent of the space has been allocated to various state agencies. The biggest tenants are the state Public Service Commission and the Mass Transit Administration, which is to move in over the next two months. Citibank, the Internal Revenue Service, and Metropolitan Fibers are among the building's other tenants.

If the governor's office were to be moved from Preston Street to St. Paul Street, other state agencies would likely move into the vacated space, Mr. Ayres said.

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