USF&G ponders 2 sites for its life subsidiary USF&G Tower itself as well as 100 E. Pratt


USF&G Corp. will decide within a week between two downtown office towers for the future headquarters of its life insurance subsidiary, company officials said yesterday.

Although no decision has been made, Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance executives are focusing on an available floor in the 100 E. Pratt St. skyscraper, as well as on three floors in the 35-story USF&G Tower.

"We're in final negotiations involving two buildings, but no decision has been made," said G. Jay Erbe Jr. USF&G's vice president of administration. "But downtown has the best overall fit for the life company's needs."

Ironically, F&G Life's relocation from USF&G's 72-acre Mount Washington campus results from a need to make room for USF&G's headquarters, which plans to move from the 535,000-square-foot tower at the Inner Harbor around Thanksgiving.

Erbe cited downtown's convenience of access for a majority of F&G Life's 90 employees and amenities such as restaurants and hotels as the chief reasons for focusing on the city's business core.

"This is a way to symbolize our commitment to Baltimore," USF&G Chairman and Chief Executive Norman P. Blake Jr. said yesterday during the $14.6 billion insurer's centennial celebration.

Economics also will play an important role. F&G Life, which hopes to complete the relocation by August, is negotiating a lease for five years with renewal options, Erbe said. A lease for 35,000 square feet in either building is expected to cost the company roughly $3.8 million through 2001.

F&G Life had been focusing on four buildings since selecting Maryland over Tampa, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn. for its headquarters in late April. The four buildings are 100 E. Pratt, the General Physics Building in Columbia, Centerpoint in Hunt Valley and the Airport Square complex in Linthicum.

F&G Life, a 36-year-old company with operating income of $19 million last year on sales of $348 million, selected Maryland in part because of a $600,000 economic incentive package from the state and city.

Although the 28-story 100 E. Pratt St. tower appears to be F&G Life's first choice, Erbe said the tower bearing USF&G's name remains a "possibility."

"We have to see what the final economic impact would be," he said.

If F&G Life selects the 603,000-square-foot 100 E. Pratt St. building, owned by IBM Corp. and construction magnate Willard Hackerman, it would occupy a vacant second floor that the computer giant recently abandoned.

"100 E. Pratt St. has a tremendous amenity package to offer," said Walter D. Pinkard Jr., president of Colliers Pinkard, the real estate firm responsible for leasing the skyscraper. "It would get them on a single floor in a harbor setting with adjacent parking."

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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