Utility still plans a new address

Constellation Energy expects to be anchor at 750 E. Pratt St.

October 30, 2001|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

The economy may have derailed Constellation Energy Group Inc.'s plans to split into two separate businesses, but for now it won't change the company's plans to move into a new headquarters.

A spokesman for Constellation said yesterday that the company still intends to anchor the city's first new office building downtown in a decade. The building, on top of an electric substation at 750 E. Pratt St., has been under construction since May.

The steel shell of the building is visible from the harbor and the east entrance to downtown from Interstate 83.

"Our plans have not changed," said Michael W. Delaney, a company spokesman. "We still intend to move our headquarters to the new building."

Delaney said things could still change before completion of the building -- now scheduled for late summer. Constellation will take on new leadership Thursday when Mayo A. Shattuck III, former chairman of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, becomes president and chief executive officer, replacing Christian H. Poindexter.

"Everything will be up for review with a new CEO," Delaney said.

The company announced the Shattuck appointment Friday along with news that it was calling off a yearlong plan to split into two publicly traded companies. One would have been a fast-growth, unregulated business that would generate and sell power nationwide, while the other would have been a regional electric company called BGE Corp. It would have included its regulated subsidiary Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which operates the Pratt Street substation.

The company had begun dividing its staff and offices and now is working to reverse those moves.

Constellation employs more than 8,000, most in Maryland, and uses space in three downtown office buildings including BGE's headquarters at 36 W. Lexington St., Constellation's headquarters at 250 W. Pratt St. and 111 Market Place.

Delaney said the company planned to give up space at 250 W. Pratt when those workers move to the new building. He did not know how many work there now.

Constellation would get a prestigious new address with the new headquarters -- and closer proximity to the Market Place site, known as the Candler Building.

The new building is expected to rise 15 stories from the substation, and Constellation initially will take about three floors, said Robert A. Manekin, a principal at Manekin Brothers Abeshouse, which is leasing the space.

"The building is opening four months ahead of schedule to accommodate the occupant's needs," Manekin said. "Steel is going up at a phenomenal rate."

No other tenants have been announced for the 320,000-square- foot building, which will be able to house about 1,500 workers. Real estate experts have said the weakened economy has slowed leasing.

Willard Hackerman, head of Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., is developing the $50 million building and an addition to the Harbor Park garage on Lombard Street, which he co-owns.

The garage will grow to about 1,300 spaces from 830 spaces and offer a walkway to a "sky lobby" in the new Constellation building.

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