Arthur Andersen heads to harbor Firm to take up space in the Power Plant, hire more workers

Commercial real estate

September 24, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Arthur Andersen LLP is expected to announce this morning plans to expand its downtown offices with a move into an unlikely location -- the Power Plant -- and hire more than 100 employees.

The company, which intends to unveil its pending move at Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's weekly press briefing, also intends to establish a regional training facility at the 601 E. Pratt St. building.

But in becoming the first office tenant in the $18 million project, which houses the Hard Rock Cafe and ESPN Zone, Arthur Andersen acknowledges that its choice is an unorthodox one.

"We realize it's not a traditional location, but then again, we're not a traditional organization," said William X. Crowley, managing partner of Arthur Andersen's Baltimore office. "We're a young organization, and we were interested in creating an environment that will help us both in attracting, recruiting and retaining people."

The anticipated hiring over the next five years will bring to nearly 250 the number of employees the Big Five accounting and consulting practice will have downtown.

The company expects to relocate to 31,000 square feet in the Power Plant, from its current location in the Crestar Building at 120 E. Baltimore St., by next spring. Arthur Andersen's 20-year lease for space in its new quarters is expected to cost the firm more than $12 million.

Arthur Andersen's announcement comes less than a month after the state's largest law firm, Piper & Marbury, signed a lease to relocate from Baltimore's central business district to a for- mer USF&G Corp. building in the Mount Washington section of Baltimore County, striking a blow to the city's efforts at economic development.

"When Cordish [Co., Power Plant developer] first started with the Power Plant, none of us involved had any thoughts regarding office space there," said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency. "But this is good not only for the Power Plant, but for Arthur Andersen and the city."

For Cordish, Arthur Andersen also represents not only a lease signing, but a signal that the former Six Flags Corp. entertainment complex can be more than a retail hub.

"Because retail space only works to a certain height, we decided early on that a portion of the project would be devoted to office space," said Joe Weinberg, a Cordish vice president.

Cordish intends to relocate its offices to 12,000 square feet in the Power Plant this winter, from 300 Water St. In all, the Power Plant contains three floors of office space totaling 70,000 square feet.

Pub Date: 9/24/98

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