Child abuse center finds new city home

Agency buys building in Charles Village to create nonprofits hub

January 04, 2002|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

The columned, early 20th-century building left behind in lower Charles Village by Whitman, Requardt and Associates last month is getting a new life as a center for nonprofits.

The 66,000-square-foot building at 2315 St. Paul St. was bought by Baltimore Child Abuse Center Inc., an independent, nonprofit agency that aids sexually abused city children, the agency said yesterday. The sale, for $1.05 million, will keep one of the largest buildings in the corridor in use.

The group plans to move in by Feb. 1 and use one floor of the six-story building. It will market the rest to other nonprofits. Officials will be seeking donations to help pay for renovations.

"The whole idea was we needed to be near the agencies we work with," said Sue Dagurt, director of development for the group. "We started looking in the city but couldn't find anything at a reasonable rent. We came across the Whitman Requardt building."

She said the group could offer reasonable rents for other nonprofits that also have a need to be in the city near clients and public agencies.

"We hope to help ourselves and others," she said.

Baltimore Child Abuse had been working in offices in Power Plant Live at the Inner Harbor. But as bars and restaurants moved into the new entertainment project, the space became less appropriate for its mission and too expensive for the group, which subsists on donations.

About 25 employees provide a haven for about 1,200 children a year who have been abused or might have been abused. Three government agencies handle those cases and have agreed to work with the independent group, so its officials needed to find convenient space in the city.

The arrangement allows all of the interviews to be done in one location, at one time. The children also receive medical attention there.

The group will also provide space for the city police unit that investigates abuse cases.

About 20 other nonprofits have expressed interest in the building, said Terri Harrington, who helped broker the deal for Insignia/Miller commercial real estate.

Harrington said the building has been spared the fate of many offices in parts of the city no longer in demand by big businesses.

"Whitman Requardt was there for 20 years, and I think we got the right replacement for that neighborhood. Whitman Requardt had close to 300 employees, and if it went vacant, it would have been a disadvantage for South Charles Village," said Harrington. "Baltimore Child Abuse will be a catalyst for other nonprofits in that neighborhood."

The center plans to rent space to other nonprofits for about $12 a square foot -- several dollars cheaper than most downtown buildings. The building comes with 180 parking spaces.

C. Richard Lortz, the managing partner at Whitman Requardt, said he was pleased to see the building put to good use.

Lortz said the engineering and architectural firm had outgrown its Charles Village building, which has been on the market for about a year.

The company moved its 360 employees Dec. 26 to a new waterfront building and garage in Fells Point with the help of the city, which wanted to keep it from moving to the suburbs.

"We designed and developed the new building ourselves," he said.

"You have to grow and create opportunities for your employees," Lortz said. "I'll miss the old building. It worked well for us, but parking and space were a problem. I think this will work out for everyone."

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