Economic growth helps fill vacant Anne Arundel office space

January 20, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

A surge of confidence in the business world brought hundreds of jobs to Anne Arundel County last year and helped drive down office vacancy rates, according to an economic development report to be released today.

The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. report shows that 101 companies expanded or moved to the county and filled 2.1 million square feet of commercial space.

Job growth more than doubled, to 3,225 jobs added compared with 1993's increase of 1,450.

"A lot of the larger companies postponed moving," said Michael S. Lofton, executive vice president of the economic development corporation.

"Many of them waited until they had a higher confidence. They got that confidence in 1994."

That helped drive down office vacancy rates by 3.8 percent. By the end of the third quarter, 12 percent of the county's 9 million square feet of office space was empty.

The overall office vacancy rate in the Baltimore metropolitan region dropped 2.2 percent, according to Legg Mason Realty Group.

In the county, Annapolis had the sharpest drop in its vacancy rate, from 14.4 percent in 1993 to 7 percent last year.

The demand for office space in Annapolis now exceeds the supply. The result is higher rents.

"There is very little available land to be built in Annapolis," said Neil Katz, president and managing partner of the Corridor Commercial Real Estate Group.

"It's good for landlords because that means rents are going to be pushed up because of the supply. It's bad for people who need to rent."

The vacancy rate for the county's 5 million square feet of flex space, space for office or production use, dropped from 19.7 percent in 1993 to 10 percent last year. The vacancy rate for warehouse space dropped to 10.6 percent.

The area around Baltimore-Washington International Airport saw much of the gain in occupancy rates.

Nearly half of the 101 companies tracked by the economic development corporation moved into office business parks near BWI, the nation's fastest-growing airport last year.

Officials at the corporation, a nonprofit agency charged with recruiting businesses to the county, said the arrival of several large companies, coupled with the construction of two large commercial buildings, helped drive up occupancy rates.

Goldwell Cosmetics USA, a German maker of hair coloring and permanent wave products, announced in June that it would build a 200,000-square-foot headquarters building in the Hock Business Park at BWI.

In September, Commerce Corp., the East Coast's largest supplier of lawn and garden products, announced that it would build a 275,000-square-foot plant in Brandon Woods Industrial Park in Solley.

Ms. Duggins said upgraded roads, such as Route 32, U.S. 50, Interstate 97 and the improvements along Route 100, also have made the county more attractive to distribution and manufacturing businesses.

MCI brought the most new jobs to the county, 400, when it moved into a 51,000-square-foot building in Linthicum's Airport Square. Cadmus Journal Services, which publishes medical journals, brought 350 employees to a 51,000-square-foot office at Airport Square.

The largest property transaction last year was Wal-Mart's purchase of the 306,150-square-foot building that once held the Leedmark store in Glen Burnie.

The store, which will be the county's third Wal-Mart, is to open this spring, adding 300 jobs.

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