Learning lessons from Piper's move to the suburbsYour...


October 06, 1998

Learning lessons from Piper's move to the suburbs

Your readers deserve more information on the circumstances surrounding Piper & Marbury's decision to relocate most of its personnel from downtown to a building in Mount Washington.

For the past two years, the Baltimore Development Corp. met regularly with Piper's managing partner, Frank Burch, and its real estate representative (Colliers Pinkard) to identify, at Piper's request, suitable new office building opportunities in which Piper would be the major tenant. Piper limited this search to downtown Baltimore along the Pratt Street corridor, with a deadline of March 2001.

More than a year ago, this effort focused on the Baltimore City Community College's (BCCC) Inner Harbor site at Pratt Street and Market Place. Piper formed a team with developer Peter Leibowits to pursue this development. With the city's deep interest in seeing this major site developed, BDC and the mayor had regular contacts with BCCC's board and staff to urge their expeditious action.

Also, BDC offered its staff as a free consultant to BCCC. This offer was not accepted, and BCCC instead employed a private consultant. In June, BCCC selected another development team -- not including Piper -- for the Inner Harbor site. While BDC continued to discuss construction options in downtown with Piper, the law firm's self-imposed moving date to occupy its future office space was making such efforts increasingly questionable.

Because Piper's consideration of the Baltimore County site was not revealed to us, its late August decision was surprising and disappointing news to those of us involved in this effort of several years.

At this point, what should be done? Several ideas seem to be worth pursuing:

While Piper's decision is a good real estate deal for Piper, the city will suffer a significant loss in downtown employment and spin-off economic activity.

Given this situation, would Piper defer implementing its decision and consider extending its deadline and allow a reasonable period (perhaps six months) to identify an appropriate downtown solution? Or, if Piper proceeds immediately with the Mount Washington location, would it commit to a significantly larger downtown presence (than previously stated) over a significant period of time?

BDC is taking the lead in convening the major public and private players to address all the hurdles in providing new, quality Class A office space in downtown at the earliest possible time.

Short of offering financial incentives, which were not requested by Piper, we believe the city did all it could do to retain Piper downtown. Our ideas offer some options to rectify or help to avoid future moves of this type.

Roger C. Lipitz

M.J. Brodie


The writers are, respectively, chairman and president of the Baltimore Development Corp.

'Underground Posse' rider mourns leader, talk station

I read with incredulity the article on the firing of radio talk-show host C. Miles Smith, "Radio talk-show host fired for on-air remarks" (Sept. 30). It reminded me of the fable of the emperor who had no clothes.

As a longtime listener of radio station WOL, where he worked, I remember the heyday of the "Cathy Hughes Show." When this now corporate giant was on the air, it was "no holds barred" time. Del. Clarence Mitchell IV was right when he said that she has said far more incendiary and unsupportable things than what Mr. Smith said about Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Mr. Smith was a thought-provoking talk-show host who came to the airwaves thoroughly prepared daily. He always discussed the most controversial topics and forced his listeners to take a serious look at the inconsistencies of everyday existence. We, the deputies of the "Talk How You Like Underground Posse," will miss him dearly.

As for the WOL talk network, I fear it is the end. It is laughable that a network that built its reputation on hard-hitting commentary now bows down to some special interests. Perhaps a case of "follow the money" is in order.

Eldon Pittman Jr.


American flag deserves to be displayed properly

I am constantly dismayed to see the American flag displayed improperly. On any given day I see torn and ripped flags displayed outside private homes as well as public buildings.

Our flag is a constant reminder of blood that has been shed to keep our freedom intact. It represents the desire and dedication of 13 tiny colonies to unite against a tyrant. This flag stands for the privilege to come and go as we please. It gives us the right to own property, the freedom to choose our religion and the right to bear arms.

When a torn flag is raised or when it is otherwise displayed improperly, we blatantly show our disregard for the sacrifices readily given by our forefathers and our friends, neighbors and loved ones in recent years.

Thomas K. Jarvis


More are dying in Kosovo as the West delays action

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