Johns Hopkins completes purchase of former Zurich property

Former insurance company buildings in North Baltimore to house more than 900 employees

March 31, 2010|By Edward Gunts |

Johns Hopkins has completed its purchase of the former Zurich Insurance Co. property in North Baltimore for $15 million and plans to take possession today.

Brian Dembeck, executive director of Johns Hopkins Real Estate, said Hopkins plans to begin this spring to modify 415,000 square feet of office space on the property for use by more than 900 Hopkins employees who will move there in phases. He said the renovation would be a multimillion-dollar project, but he didn't give a specific figure.

"We will start some of the renovations just about immediately," he said.

FSK Land Corp., a nonprofit entity owned jointly by the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System, acquired the property at Keswick Road and 40th Street. The property, with two large buildings and a garage for 1,088 cars, was vacated last October by Zurich, which consolidated its operations in Baltimore County.

Officials disclosed in December that Hopkins was planning to buy the 11-acre parcel to consolidate employees from other locations who work in finance, data processing and other services — a move expected to help stabilize the surrounding area and boost neighboring businesses.

The first wave of 375 employees is expected to move in this fall from the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus in East Baltimore. They will be employees of Hopkins' Patient Financial Services arm, which is responsible for billing inpatients treated at Hopkins medical facilities. By this time next year, Dembeck said, he anticipates that 911 Hopkins employees will be working at the former Zurich property.

Dembeck said the building's exterior won't be changed much but that interior spaces will be renovated, a project being planned by architecture firm Design Collective of Baltimore. He said Hopkins does not have a new name for the property yet.

The Zurich parcel is Hopkins' second major acquisition of a North Baltimore property in less than a year. It paid $12.5 million last May for a vacant 1.3-acre parcel in the 3200 block of St. Paul Street for future development. A development team had planned to build a luxury apartment project called the Olmsted there but never moved ahead with construction.

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