USF&G parent St. Paul may expand in Baltimore Minn. firm weighs need for more space, holds city as an option


November 03, 1998|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

St. Paul Cos., the Minnesota insurer that bought USF&G Corp., might look to expand in Baltimore if plans to acquire a property in its hometown fail, a spokeswoman said.

Although the company has no immediate expansion plans, it expects the number of employees to grow over the next several years, which could force it to build a new headquarters office.

One option is to erect a building in St. Paul across the street from its current office tower, which houses the majority of its 3,300 employees who work downtown.

But the company has met resistance from preservationists, who want to protect historic buildings on the site, and housing advocates, who are concerned that low-income residents will be pushed from their apartments.

"This is an analysis that we are making for the long term," said Karen Himle, a company spokeswoman. "It would be untrue to suggest that we would be moving to Baltimore or putting up a building here."

Himle said St. Paul Cos. owns property in Baltimore, and it would consider expanding here or in Minneapolis if it ran into a roadblock.

Baltimore "is certainly an option, we are glad to have it," she said.

St. Paul Cos., which acquired USF&G in April for $3.5 billion, employs about 2,000 people who work in Mount Washington.

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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