Marketing firm gkv plans move to McHenry Row

Corporate headquarters relocation adds to new development

May 19, 2010|By a Baltimore Sun reporter

Baltimore marketing and communications firm gkv plans to move by early 2011 from Tide Point on Hull Street to the McHenry Row development under construction in Locust Point.

The ad agency announced Wednesday that it has negotiated a 10-year lease to occupy at least 18,000 square feet of office space at the $117 million McHenry Row complex at Woodall Street and Fort Avenue. The firm will have its name on the exterior of a five-story building there.

With 85 employees, gkv is the largest of three office tenants to sign up for space in the project, and its move makes the 65,000-square-foot office portion 75 percent leased. Other office tenants moving to McHenry Row are the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and KCI Technologies.

Under construction on the old Chesapeake Paperboard property, McHenry Row is a mixed-use development on 9.5 acres that also will include 130,000 square feet of retail space, 250 apartments and more than 900 parking spaces in two garages. Construction of a 61,000-square-foot Harris Teeter grocery store is expected to begin in a few weeks.

The office portion will open this fall. The rest will be complete by mid-2011.

McHenry Row will be the fourth location for gkv, which has been in Brown's Arcade on North Charles Street, the World Trade Center on Pratt Street and Tide Point, where its lease expires next year.

Company officials said they chose to move to McHenry Row for several reasons, including its accessibility to Interstate 95, the efficient layout of the office space, free covered parking and a variety of retailers on the premises.

Chairman and CEO Roger Gray noted gkv's long history in Baltimore and said in a statement that the firm will "continue to stay true to our Baltimore roots" with the move to McHenry Row.

Founded in 1981, gkv specializes in marketing strategies for "challenger" brands that are typically outspent by competitors. The company serves local and international clients in fields ranging from tourism to financial services to health care and sports.

The McHenry Row development team is headed by Mark Sapperstein of 28 Walker Development. Martin Architectural Group of Philadelphia is the project architect. Design Collective of Baltimore is gkv's architect. MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services represented gkv in the lease negotiations, and NAI KLNB and Cushman & Wakefield represent the landlord in office leases.

Sapperstein said 75 percent of both the office and retail space at McHenry Row is now leased before construction is complete, making the project a "shining star" in an otherwise "conservative" leasing environment over the past two years.

"To successfully attract relatively large and highly recognizable users of Class A space to this development, like gkv, speaks extremely well to its quality of location, feasibility and marketability of design and availability of retail amenities," he said.

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