Office project work begun

Timonium building will be 7 stories, cost $25 million

Commercial real estate

May 25, 1999|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Spurred on by the healthy economy and a lack of overbuilding, two Baltimore County developers have begun work on a new $25 million Timonium office building.

The seven-story project being developed by Bavar Properties Group LLC and Merritt Properties LLC is one of the largest new office projects to be developed in Baltimore County this decade.

"We've been sitting with this site and waiting for the past 17 years," said David I. Bavar, president of Bavar Properties, which owns about 2 million square feet of space.

"We've been waiting for the right time, and now is the right time."

Said Leroy Merritt, chairman of Merritt Properties: "If we don't build it now, we'll never build it. The economy is good, and the market everywhere is excellent for this quality of space."

American Express Tax and Business Services Inc. will lease roughly a quarter of the 193,000-square-foot project upon its completion in June 2000.

The American Express subsidiary is combining the offices of two the region's largest accounting firms, which it acquired in the past two years.

Employees of the former Wolpoff & Co. will move to Timonium from the 28-story St. Paul Plaza downtown, while employees of the former Walpert, Smullian & Blumenthal PA will move from the eight-story Susquehanna Building in Towson.

Combined, the companies will move 280 employees.

American Express' lease, which runs through 2010, is valued at roughly $12 million. Officials from American Express could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Timonium Two office building, as it will be known, will front Interstate 83 and be a companion project to an adjacent six-story building completed in 1986.

The Timonium One building, at 1966 Greenspring Drive, is 97 percent occupied by Zurich Insurance, Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., Bell Atlantic Corp. and others.

"One of the big pluses we have is where the building will be located," Merritt said. "You have to go another five miles [from Timonium Two] to get to Hunt Valley and another eight miles to get to Loveton, so convenience is a big factor here."

The Timonium Two project will be designed by Colimore/Clarke Associates and financed by First National Bank of Maryland. Merritt Properties will construct the building.

Like the recognizable Timonium One project -- built on the site of the former Timonium Drive-In theater -- the new 1954 Greenspring Drive building will have an exterior of green glass.

"The best way for us to give people the impression that the building really is different is to make it look different," said Scott E. Dorsey, Merritt's president.

"People can't see the post-tension reinforced concrete or the state-of-the-art [heating, ventilation and air-conditioning] systems, but they can see the outside," he said.

"The idea is to make this building a Class A building with all the amenities and features of a downtown Class A building, only in a suburban location."

In addition to the office space, Timonium Two will contain nearly 900 parking spaces, including underground structured deck parking, said Merritt, whose firm has developed more than 10 million square feet of commercial space statewide.

The Bavar/Merritt team had originally planned to construct two smaller buildings on the site, but altered their plans in response to tenants' needs for larger floor sizes, Bavar said.

Pub Date: 5/25/99

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