In what is expected to be the largest office-space commitment downtown this year, Baltimore's housing authority intends to consolidate five locations and the majority of its 1,400 employees into the 12-story Candler Building at the end of the year.
The Housing Authority of Baltimore City's plan to relocate to the 111 Market Place building, approved Tuesday by the authority's board, caps a five-month search for space to accommodate growth.
"The Candler Building is central to other city agencies and City Hall, as well as the authority's projects," said Zack Germroth, a spokesman for the city's Department of Housing and Community Development. "It offered the best opportunity for expansion and the price per square foot was very competitive."
The authority will spend $13.6 million for 110,000 square feet in Candler through 2006.
Among the buildings the authority will relocate from are City Hall; 300 Cathedral St.; 1600 Rutland Ave.; and the city-owned, 14-story Charles L. Benton Jr. Building at 417 E. Fayette St., a $29 million building that has been criticized for poor maintenance and malfunctioning equipment.
As a result, the authority will spend $2 million more for its office space over the 10-year period.
The authority, with a $200 million annual budget and responsibility for 43 public housing developments, began its consolidation effort in March, citing growth in its internal police department and other administrative divisions.
The Candler Building, with 535,000 square feet one of downtown's largest buildings, was one of six respondents to the authority's request for proposals.
Others included the 18-story Munsey Building at 7 N. Calvert St.; 23-story One Charles Center, at 100 N. Charles St.; and a former Signet Bank/Maryland operations center at 210 Guilford Ave.
With the authority, the Candler Building's occupancy will rise past 80 percent. Other major tenants there include insurer Alexander & Alexander Inc.
The Candler Building has been owned since 1986 by the General Electric Pension Trust, which spent more than $60 million to acquire and renovate the former Coca-Cola Co. facility.
Officials of Beacon Management Co., the Boston company that manages Candler, did not respond to several inquiries from The Sun.