Developer to Expand Office Park in Md.'s Anne Arundel County

Jul. 7--Suburban office developer Corporate Office Properties Trust plans a major expansion of the National Business Park in Annapolis Junction in Anne Arundel County to meet growing demand for office space stemming from the federal government's base restructuring, which will shift tens of thousands of jobs to Maryland.

Columbia-based COPT said yesterday that it purchased for $26.6 million the 178-acre parcel known as Clark's Hundred, which could eventually accommodate about 6,000 workers in seven to eight office buildings. The parcel sits just north of COPT's existing park, a 285-acre, fully leased complex bordered by the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

COPT said it paid $19.3 million in cash and the balance with the issuance of common units in its operating partnership.

"This is a logical extension of what we're doing in the National Business Park," where most of the tenants are government agencies or defense contractors, said Randall M. Griffin, president and chief executive.

"We'd expect the growth to continue, and the BRAC [base realignment and closure] just accelerates that. The ability to expand the National Business Park is an important element in meeting the needs of BRAC," Griffin said.

Central Maryland is expected to gain 40,000 to 50,000 jobs over the next five to seven years as a result of the realignment and closure process, said Anirban Basu, head of the Sage Policy Group, an economic consulting firm in Baltimore.

Those positions include military jobs coming to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County as well as related jobs for defense contractors and other government contractors.

Building on demand

"This is probably the largest single, defined economic event in Maryland since World War II," Basu said. "It builds upon preexisting demand for white-collar professionals and demand for office space, and that's what COPT is responding to."

COPT said it expects buildings on the newly acquired land to be available between 2008 and 2011, when many of the new jobs are expected.

The expansion could accommodate at least 1.25 million square feet in seven or eight buildings, Griffin said.

He said he expects many of the same types of tenants - government agencies and defense contractors - that now fill the existing National Business Park.

First phases

The first two phases of the park consist of 16 buildings totaling 1.9 million square feet of office space. An additional four buildings are under construction, which will add another 566,000 square feet, while two more buildings are in the planning stage for another 327,000 square feet.

Land in the existing park can support an additional 628,000 square feet of development, the company said. When those first two phases are completed, about 15,000 people will work in the park.

COPT owns, manages, leases and develops suburban offices in the Baltimore-Washington region, including 182 properties totaling 14.6 million rentable square feet. Nineteen if them are owned through joint ventures.

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