REIT to move to site in Columbia

COPT to relocate headquarters to be closer to properties

Real estate

March 10, 2000|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Corporate Office Properties Trust will move its corporate headquarters from suburban Philadelphia to Columbia to put it closer to the company's high concentration of office buildings in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

The Columbia facility, at 8815 Centre Park Drive, has about 60 employees. It houses Corporate Realty Management, a property management affiliate, and Corporate Development Services, the company's development and construction management company. Key departments located there include legal, finance and accounting, human resources, investor relations, marketing and asset management.

Clay W. Hamlin III, the company's chief executive officer, will continue to operate from the Bala Cynwyd, Pa., offices, which will also house acquisitions and several related operational facilities.

"This formal transfer reflects the operational realities of the company and the strong combination of development, leasing and management activity prevalent in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., corridor," Hamlin said. "With nearly 60 percent of our office buildings located in this market, as well as the majority of our employees, this is an appropriate business move."

Randall M. Griffin, company president and chief operating officer, said he believes the move will make local investors feel more comfortable with the company and will send a message to competitors as well.

"By saying we're putting the stake in the ground here, that's saying we're aggressively defending it," he said. "The other REITs are saying, `We can't compete,' and leaving."

The rapidly growing company has invested $400 million in Maryland in the past 18 months, has started construction on about $70 million in projects and expects to start another $70 million in projects by June -- most of them in Maryland, Griffin said.

"Corporate Office Properties has a tight geographic focus to its portfolio," said Jeff Caira, a real estate investment trust analyst at Tucker Anthony Cleary Gull in Boston. "Being close to your markets makes sense."

Forty-four of the company's 77 office properties are in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, representing 3.3 million square feet of space.

In addition, more than 140 of the company's employees and its affiliates work in Maryland and northern Virginia.

The 77 office properties owned by Corporate Office Properties Trust have 5.9 million square feet of space.

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