Board of Estimates OKs 2% loan to keep TBC ad agency in city

Firm threatened to leave

$500,000 is to defray cost of its move to Fells Point

April 10, 2003|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

The Board of Estimates approved yesterday a $500,000 loan to help advertising firm Trahan, Burden & Charles Inc. defray the cost of moving to Fells Point from the Charles Street location it has occupied for more than 12 years.

The 10-year loan, with an annual interest rate of 2 percent, was offered after the agency threatened to move out of the city.

The money is to be used for the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment for the new headquarters at 900 S. Wolfe St., where the agency is expected to move June 1.

"We've enjoyed being where we are," said Allan Charles, president and creative director at TBC. "We've had a good run. But change is good. It gets everyone energized."

TBC has 88 employees, according to information provided by the Board of Estimates.

"We're keeping a company that's been here a long time," said Jeffrey P. Pillas, chief financial officer for the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's development arm. "We want to retain them in the city. Relocating to a new site was going to be expensive for them. We wanted to help."

Yesterday's board action replaces a $750,000 city loan approved but never executed in August to help TBC buy its North Charles Street building and parking lot.

The company had rented the property at 1030 N. Charles St. since 1990 but considered moving out of the city when the owner put it up for sale, Charles has said.

The city offered the 15-year, 2 percent fixed-rate loan to entice TBC to stay.

Under the earlier scenario, TBC was to use the city loan, along with private equity and another loan, to buy the building and lot for $3 million. City officials have called the company's presence on North Charles Street an "anchor" for redevelopment in the area.

But the deal with the property's owner fell apart in November, Charles said. TBC then decided to move to Fells Point.

The new building, designed to look like an old warehouse with wood ceilings and brick walls, will offer about 34,000 square feet of office space, about the same as the advertising and public relations firm has now, Charles said. TBC's film studio is to occupy a nearby building.

"When you look at how the workplace of Baltimore is changing, everything is going in and around the harbor," he said.

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