Utility picks headquarters architect Constellation looking at Arundel tract

April 17, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Constellation Energy Corp. has retained an architect to design a 10-story headquarters in the Annapolis area, and the utility is in the final stages of negotiating on a site for the building.

Although no firm agreement has been reached, Constellation -- the company that is being formed through a merger between Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Potomac Electric Power Co. -- is focusing on a 28-acre tract owned by the Anne Arundel Medical Center off Jennifer Road, sources said.

Constellation hired Davis, Carter, Scott of Washington, D.C., to design the 200,000-square-foot building because their plans best fit with the utility's vision for the headquarters, said BGE Chairman and Chief Executive Christian H. Poindexter.

"I wish I could say the situation was all resolved, but it's not," Mr. Poindexter said in an interview. "We're involved in negotiations with various organizations for necessary infrastructure."

A formal announcement regarding the headquarters could come early as Tuesday during BGE's annual stockholders' meeting, Anne Arundel County government and other sources said. BGE and Pepco announced their intent to shift a combined corporate headquarters to the Annapolis area last September, when the two power concerns unveiled plans to create the nation's ninth-largest utility.

Mr. Poindexter, who will become Constellation's chief executive

when the merger is completed in March 1997, reiterated that less than 200 Constellation executives would occupy the new headquarters. The utility intends to occupy two or three floors of the new tower, or up to 60,000 square feet.

While Mr. Poindexter said that several sites are being evaluated for the headquarters, he acknowledged that the tight Annapolis office market favors new construction. The vacancy rate for quality, so-called Class A office space in Annapolis stands at a scant 1.5 percent, according to recent statistics.

Under a tentative plan, the Davis, Carter, Scott-designed building will be developed by Constellation Real Estate Group Inc., a BGE subsidiary and the group that last year formed a joint venture with the hospital to fulfill long-term development plans for the 28-acre site.

Neither Constellation, Pepco nor Anne Arundel County officials involved in developing the headquarters would comment on its status, while Davis, Carter, Scott and medical center representatives could not be reached.

The hospital envisions that its complex will include at least one other headquarters facility in addition to the $22 million Constellation headquarters and other, smaller office buildings; limited retail space; and a full-service, 250-room hotel.

That plan is similar to one put forth in May 1989, when the hospital linked with Rouse & Associates Inc. for a $50 million project known as the Capital Gateway. The Malvern, Pa.-based developer was forced to abandon the proposed 800,000-square-foot project two years later, in the wake of the collapse of the local commercial real estate market.

But Constellation may not immediately occupy its new headquarters after the merger is consummated in March 1997, because of construction schedules and required infrastructure work. Constellation hopes to occupy the new building by the end the third quarter of 1997, Mr. Poindexter said.

"It frankly isn't imperative that we get down there right after the merger," Mr. Poindexter said following a special BGE shareholders' meeting last month to approve the Pepco merger. "We'll continue to maintain a major presence in Baltimore, and I plan to keep an office [in BGE's 39 W. Lexington St. headquarters]. So if we get there sometime in the third quarter of 1997, that will be okay. We'd like to finalize sooner, of course, but that may not be possible."

Technological advancements allow the BGE and Pepco executives to work together without physically being together, he added.

Pub Date: 4/17/96

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