Space research group buys new HQ building in Columbia

Organization considered a move, decided to stay in Howard Co.

June 26, 2013|By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun

The Columbia-based Universities Space Research Association said Wednesday that it has bought a new headquarters building for $12.5 million and will remain in Howard County after considering a move.

The association — which works to advance space-related sciences and exploration — employs 500 people nationwide, about 50 of whom are based in downtown Columbia. The group has had its headquarters there since 1976.

Officials said they looked at locations in the county and in the Washington area, and also considered adding a building to a complex the organization owns in Houston.

Fred Tarantino, the association's president, said in a statement that proximity to federal laboratories and quality of life considerations drove the decision to purchase a building in the Columbia Gateway business park last week. The group expects to spend $6 million to $7 million renovating the property so it can be used for conferences, public exhibits and other activities.

Howard County economic development officials and political leaders hailed the decision as a win.

"We had the distinct possibility of losing them," said state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, a Republican who represents Howard and Carroll counties.

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