Corporate Office Properties buys 5 more

Airport Square units in Arundel acquired for undisclosed price

March 23, 2001|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

Already one of the largest property owners in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, Corporate Office Properties Trust said yesterday that it has acquired five more office buildings in the area.

The Columbia real estate investment trust now owns 55 office buildings, with more than 4.2 million square feet, in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

The terms of the purchase of five buildings in Airport Square Business Park were not disclosed. Corporate Office Properties joined with an unnamed out-of-town investor who provided cash for the project in Anne Arundel County.

The seller was UBS Brinson Realty Investors LLC., an Aetna Inc. subsidiary. Corporate Office Properties now owns about 87 percent of the airport office park.

The five buildings, which total 314,594 square feet, are almost completely leased. Tenants include Ciena Corp., Cadmus Journal Services Inc. and the federal government.

Randall M. Griffin, president of Corporate Office Properties, said the company's strategy is to be the dominant property owner in the area.

"That way we see every deal, and we have the flexibility to accommodate people's needs. We can grow with them when they need more space," he said.

The strategy paid off recently when First Service Networks Inc., a Connecticut maintenance services provider, needed space, Griffin said.

No landlord had space in one building, but Corporate Office Properties found space in two of its buildings - including an Annapolis Junction office building for its headquarters. The company plans to move in June.

And the strategy paid off again when Bookham Technology PLC, a British maker of telecommunications components, needed space, Griffin said. Corporate Office Properties found it space for a plant in Columbia's Oakland Ridge Industrial Park. The company moved last month.

"With Bookham, we were really the only people they called," he said.

Griffin said Corporate Office Properties will continue to look for more buildings to buy in the area. He expects the company to acquire about $100 million in properties this year, compared with $15 million last year.

Corporate Office Properties is the largest property owner in Anne Arundel and the second largest in Howard County, behind the Rouse Co.

Corporate Office Properties has four office buildings in Anne Arundel County and one in Howard County under development. Griffin said the company would likely slow down the construction pace as the market softens.

Trammell Crow Co. reports that overall office vacancy rates in the first quarter of 2001 were 5.54 percent in Anne Arundel County and 7.46 percent in Howard County - the lowest in the region.

The two counties also have 1.8 million square feet of new space that will become available by the end of 2001. Tenants have signed leases for about 18 percent of that space.

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