State Sells U.s. Land For Social Security

August 27, 2009|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved on Wednesday a transfer to the federal government of state-owned land in Northwest Baltimore where U.S. officials plan to build an office building to house some Social Security Administration operations.

The new structure, which federal and state officials say is needed by 2012, is planned near the Reisterstown Road Plaza Metro station. It would be one of the largest and most expensive federal office buildings in Baltimore in years. About 1,600 federal workers now at the federal agency's Metro West complex on Greene Street would move there.

Federal officials are seeking a private developer to construct a 538,000-square-foot office building and 1,076-space garage and lease it to Social Security. The project is envisionsed as the first phase of a larger "transit-oriented development" that's expected to bring housing, stores and office space to the area.

The board, which includes Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, approved, without debate, the transfer from the Maryland Department of Transportation to the U.S. General Services Administration of an 11.3-acre parcel at 6100 Wabash Ave. The transfer price is $6 million.

According to officials, Metro West no longer meets Social Security's needs, in part because of technological inadequacies.

Eventually, another 400 Metro West employees will be relocated to the Social Security Administration's national headquarters complex in Woodlawn, leaving none at Metro West. That complex was considered key to the revitalization of Baltimore's west side when it opened in 1980.

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