Prudential Mid-Atlantic to keep offices in city Company will expand presence, taking over adjacent building

November 16, 1995|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,SUN STAFF

More than five sites outside Baltimore were seriously considered.

But in the end, the Prudential Health Care Plan of the Mid-Atlantic decided to expand its administrative offices in Baltimore -- right next to the Charles Street office where it's already headquartered.

"It does sound hokey. But the city is charming -- it's a draw in its own right," said Elizabeth J. Misek, who became president of the plan last May.

Yesterday, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke joined Prudential officials for the formal announcement that the managed care company's 500 jobs would stay in Baltimore.

"This is sending a very strong signal that you can expand and do well in the city," said Mr. Schmoke.

The expanding managed-care company will lease 35,000 square feet in the Mariner Building, at 2700 North Charles St. That's next to the former Seton Catholic High School for girls, a grand old red-brick building at 2800 that Prudential first occupied in 1991.

"We love the old building. But we've been growing so quickly that we're squeezed in there," said Greg Conderacci, the company's vice president of marketing.

More than $1.2 million will be spent to renovate the space in the Mariner Building. Construction is due to begin immediately with expected occupancy in the spring of 1996.

The facility, which long served as the North Charles General Hospital, has lately been in partial use as a "sub-acute care center" for patients who don't need the full services of a hospital but cannot be treated at home.

Prudential will move its member services, membership processing, claims, customer service, provider relations, financial management and accounting departments to the new location. Its other offices will remain at the 2800 North Charles Street Building.

"Plans for the new building allow for continued expansion, which anticipated in the quickly changing managed care industry," the company said in a statement.

The local company, a subsidiary of the Prudential Insurance Co. of America, provides coverage for more than 300,000 members through a network of more than 4,000 physicians and more than 50 hospitals in Maryland and throughout the Washington area.

Prudential's clients include numerous employee groups in the region and a large population of Medicaid clients, who live principally in Baltimore. The Medicaid population makes the retention of a Baltimore headquarters all the more logical, said Ms. Misek, who lives in Federal Hill.

Baltimore officials conferred with Prudential for more than two years concerning the company's expansion. But in the end, the city provided no financial incentives to keep Prudential, nor did the company request any, Mr. Schmoke confirmed.

Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse acted as the broker for Prudential in the transaction, leading the site search and negotiating the lease with Mariner for an undisclosed sum. The firm also has been hired as the construction manager for the renovation.

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