Crestar moving to city center Baltimore Street tower will house regional offices

July 18, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Crestar Financial Corp., in an effort to enhance its image after purchasing Loyola Capital Corp., will move its regional headquarters downtown by late October and bring with it 100 jobs.

Crestar's commitment for three top floors in a skyscraper at 120 E. Baltimore St. through 2006 marks one of several shifts to the city's business core by white-collar employers.

On Friday, for instance, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is expected to announce that McDonald's Corp. will also relocate its regional headquarters downtown from Columbia, bringing more than 60 professionals to the 26-story 250 W. Pratt St. office tower.

"We believe a major financial corporation has to be a major part of the city, and with it the good, the bad and the ugly," said William C. Harris, chairman of Crestar's Washington/Baltimore banking group. "And for Crestar, it offers us the ability to be where the action is and where our competitors are."

As part of the move, Crestar intends to sell Loyola's five-story headquarters at 1300 N. Charles St. for close to $2.8 million to First Union Corp. First Union assumed the 51,300 square feet that Crestar will relocate to as part of First Union's absorption of First Fidelity Bancorp. First Union maintains its local operations at the former Bank of Baltimore headquarters at the southeast corner of Charles and Baltimore streets.

"First Union gets off a lease in total that they had been obligated to through 1999, and at the same time they've gotten rid of any further liabilities so they won't have to establish costly reserves," said T. Courtenay Jenkins III, a Casey & Associates Inc. principal who represented First Union in the transaction. "In turn, they receive an asset on Charles Street that will be sold."

First Union officials are working to sell the 73-year-old Loyola building and 102 adjacent parking spaces to the University of Baltimore or another area educational institution for $2.8 million, sources said.

Harris added that Crestar would have had to invest roughly $5 million to upgrade the Mount Vernon Place building to remain there.

The $18.5 billion bank, based in Richmond, Va., plans to reopen a branch on the first floor of the 25-story 120 E. Baltimore St. tower, which will be renamed the Crestar Bank Building.

In all, Crestar's retail and office leases with the Manekin Corp., principal owner of the former Bank of Baltimore Building, are valued at $13 million.

"Crestar gives the building more stability, and they plan to add a branch on the ground floor, which will be an exciting amenity," said Andrew J. A. Chriss, a Manekin Corp. senior vice president.

Crestar's decision will partially offset the loss of Alex. Brown Inc., which is moving to the $90 million Commerce Place skyscraper.

"We're making a statement that we're here to stay," Crestar's Harris said.

Pub Date: 7/18/96

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