Brokers who focus on renting space in downtown buildings have criticized Harbor East, alleging its newer developments are stealing tenants from the Pratt Street corridor. Is downtown still an attractive place for tenants?
Compared to Harbor East, the CBD [central business district] is a value play. The buildings are obviously less expensive than Harbor East.
But the CBD, especially on Pratt Street, is still a fantastic location. You're right on the harbor, you have access to walkable amenities. We're looking for ourselves at the CBD because of the value there.
There's a discount that could be as much as $10 off the new stuff in Harbor East, on a per-square-foot basis.
People who want a presence in Baltimore, who want to find the great value on great space with great views, there's a lot of opportunities in the CBD.
If they are looking for the trophy high-end product, then Harbor East is more their direction.
What does Baltimore need to focus on in order to get commercial tenants into the city?
Tenants are usually looking for similar things. They're looking for a great amenity base. They're looking for an area that has nearby amenities that employees can walk to, so that they don't have to spend a lot of time away from the office. For a lot of groups, the questions are: "Do we have several different food options? A dry cleaner? A post office nearby?" And the city has that to offer.
Parking is one thing that we've heard from everybody, every tenant we've worked with that's looking at downtown Baltimore. For them, parking is crucial because a lot of buildings don't have a garage and the only option is a public, city garage nearby that employees have to use. That's fine, but I think parking is really important, and I just don't see enough of it.
Should potential tenants of Harbor East developments be concerned about traffic?
I can see how that's going to be a huge problem. It seems that we continue to push development and continue to increase density without the infrastructure — the roads — to support it.
Look at the Intercounty Connector. We built up these major metropolitan areas and 20 years later we built a road to connect the two. But that seems to be the order of things. The development happens and then the roads come.
If you've got one thoroughfare, with two lanes each way going in and out of a dense population center like Harbor East, it's going to have to be something that gets addressed sooner rather than later.
You're a young guy. How are you going to convince potential clients that you and the two other members of Cresa's Baltimore team have enough experience to handle their accounts?
While we will be our own operation in Baltimore, we will work seamlessly with our group in Bethesda, which is headed by four partners who have been doing only tenant representation each for at least 25 years.
We're going to be calling upon and working hand-in-hand with the folks in Bethesda and D.C. to service clients in Baltimore. We're committed to providing the best service and using every resource we have and bringing that to Baltimore.