McDonald's to move regional headquarters to city Company to get use of 65 parking spaces at Camden Yards

July 19, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

McDonald's Corp.'s Baltimore regional headquarters will double in size and become one of only two such operations nationwide in a downtown location when the fast-food giant relocates to the city from Columbia.

McDonald's officials are expected to join Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke today to unveil plans to relocate 60 executives and administrators to a skyscraper at 250 W. Pratt St. near Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"We wanted to be more conspicuous in terms of our presence as a corporate citizen, because the regional headquarters is really the heart and brain trust of what McDonald's does here," said Willis T. Smart, McDonald's regional manager. He said McDonald's evaluated 29 sites in the metropolitan area before ,, selecting the downtown location.

Although the Oak Brook, Ill.-based conglomerate had been considering a downtown move for months, it was unwilling to commit until the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency, arranged for 65 parking spaces on the stadium's lot about two blocks from the Pratt Street building.

McDonald's plans to move to Baltimore by January, becoming the chain's second regional headquarters to be located in the downtown of a major city. Norfolk, Va., was the first. The company has 40 regional headquarters.

McDonald's decision marks the second major business this week to select the city's central business district for a white-collar relocation. On Wednesday, Crestar Financial Corp. confirmed plans to move roughly 100 administrative personnel to 120 E. Baltimore St.

Although the number of jobs being relocated downtown are few, the pending moves represent a symbolic resurgence after seven years of businesses leaving, according to local real estate analysts.

"McDonald's is a giant in the fast-food industry and world renowned," Mayor Schmoke said in a prepared statement. "Having their corporate presence downtown will undoubtedly enhance our pro-business efforts to retain and attract other companies to the city."

McDonald's will occupy 24,000 square feet in the 26-story office tower, from which the regional staff will help operate 220 restaurants with 18,000 employees throughout Central Maryland and Pennsylvania. Other responsibilities will include advertising, marketing and training.

A little more than 10 percent of the region's restaurants are in the city. The Baltimore restaurants employ more than 1,400 people and pay in excess of $400,000 in annual property taxes, according to the company.

Collectively, the region's restaurants generate gross annual sales of $330 million, based on McDonald's average sales at its outlets.

In addition, McDonald's intends to open about 30 new outlets a year in the region for the next five years, growth that is likely to add at least 15 jobs to the regional office by 1999, Smart said.

The company's 10-year lease at 250 W. Pratt St. has an estimated value of $4.6 million. Smart declined to provide exact figures. The building's owner, the Yarmouth Group, a $7 billion New York pension fund adviser that purchased the debt on the building in December 1994, declined to comment.

The new McDonald's office also will house 1,000 employees annually who visit the regional headquarters for training and planning, which will generate business for downtown hotels and restaurants, Smart said.

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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