After more than 25 years, Tate leaving downtown location Facility to become stadium parking lot

Commercial real estate

January 20, 1998|By Greg Schneider | Greg Schneider,SUN STAFF

Pop quiz -- Tate Engineering Systems Inc. knew it was time to leave downtown Baltimore when:

A) Its downsized boiler business no longer needed a 65,000-square-foot building.

B) Security became such a problem that employees no longer felt safe.

C) The Maryland Stadium Authority started sniffing around for a new parking lot.

The correct answer is "all of the above."

Tate, whose blue sign has been a familiar sight to drivers on Russell Street near Camden Yards for more than 25 years, will clear out of the location by summer.

Company President Gordon Johnson said he is scouting a new site for the facility's 85 employees, possibly on the western side of the Beltway between Owings Mills and Interstate 95.

The boiler making and repair shop has sold its site at the corner of Russell and West streets to 601 West Street LLP, which will raze the building and lease the property to the stadium authority as a 437-spot parking lot.

"That's always a little emotional when you consider your building is going to be knocked down, but that's progress," Johnson said. "It's time to move on."

The company once filled its warehouse with giant rolls of industrial rubber and 40,000-pound coils of conveyor belt materials, but sold that line of business four or five years ago, Johnson said.

The work that remained -- selling and servicing boilers, pumps, ,, compressors and filtration and instrumentation equipment -- did not require nearly so much space. Johnson said he is looking for something in the 25,000-square-foot range, with several candidates in Baltimore and Howard counties but none so far in the city.

Another reason for the move was an increasing problem with security at the site, Johnson said. "Personal security, property damage, vandalism, et cetera have been issues we have dealt with for quite a while," he said.

The company has paid off-duty police officers to patrol the premises, and has worked with the Carroll Camden Business Association to find solutions, he said. "But it's difficult for us to continue our operations here where we have these kinds of distractions," he said.

When the construction of the new football stadium at Camden Yards made area parking a major concern, Tate seized the opportunity to solve several problems at once. Johnson declined to disclose the sales price of the facility.

The privately held company, which has almost completed its sale to employees, posts about $28 million in annual sales. In addition to the boiler business, Tate has developed a line of aviation refueling equipment that it sells to a variety of military and commercial customers.

It has satellite offices in Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as one in Delmar on the Eastern Shore.

Its total of 156 employees includes service crews who work on boilers at large institutions along the East Coast.

Pub Date: 1/20/98

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