Local developer wants to revive Investment Building

Prime real estate has stood empty since last tenants left 'sick building' in 2001

May 06, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

A local development group is planning to revive an office tower that has stood vacant in Towson's business district for more than nine years.

The last tenants left the Investment Building in 2001 amid claims by workers that poor air quality, mold and fungi were causing breathing difficulties and other health problems.

On Thursday, Caves Valley Partners of Baltimore County outlined a $27 million project to strip the nearly 50-year-old structure overlooking Towson Circle down to its steel skeleton and rebuild it as the Towson City Center, with 155,000 square feet of commercial space for rent.

"After it is all done, it will look like a new building," said Arsh Mirmiran, director of development for Caves Valley Partners. "This location is fantastic."

Mirmiran said his firm will buy the property from owner AMG Realty of New York at the end of the month. County officials said the firm would draw on a $2 million conditional loan from the state and tax incentives from the county that amount to another $2 million.

"This building will bring good-paying jobs and so many more feet on the street," said County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who has searched throughout his two terms for someone to buy the property. "This is a prime example of renaissance reality that is recreating a 21st-century look from an out-of-date building."

Mirmiran said the Towson City Center would take advantage of the "resurgence for the urban, walkable environment."

He said Caves Valley Partners is negotiating a lease with an upscale restaurant and talking to an automobile sales network. Plans include space for two restaurants and a gymnasium.

While claims that the structure was a "sick building" were never proved, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger eventually agreed to relocate 1,000 state and county employees from jobs there.

Mirmiran said the need to address "that huge stigma" led to plans for a complete makeover, which will take about a year to complete.

"Revitalization can be a long, hard process," said Andrea Van Arsdale, the county director of commercial revitalization. "This developer has a workable plan, and the county has fashioned an assistance package to help clear considerable financial hurdles."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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