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Former Legg Mason building gets new name, tenant

A 10-year lease deal with Transamerica Life Insurance Co. gives the owners of one of the tallest buildings in the Baltimore skyline a major new tenant and a new name for the office tower.

Transamerica, a subsidiary of Aegon, will take eight floors and 140,526 square feet at 100 Light St., which will be renamed the Transamerica Tower. The 35-story building had carried the Legg Mason name until the investment manager moved to its current Harbor East headquarters in 2009.

Landing a new tenant at such a prominent address in Baltimore’s central business district was hailed as welcome news at a time when the economy continues to sputter.

“We think this is one of the most important lease announcements this year,” J. Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, said. “100 Light St. is a signature building that seems to be filling up rapidly despite the economy.”

Baltimore’s central business district had a 17.8 percent vacancy rate during the first half of the year, according to a recent report by Cushman & Wakefield.

Transamerica will move approximately 700 employees to its new location. The employees will come from the company’s current location at 1111 N. Charles St. That building is owned by Transamerica’s parent company, Netherlands-based Aegon.

Transamerica’s 10-year lease on Light Street is to begin by Nov. 1, 2011, and can be renewed for another 10 years. With the Transamerica deal, 100 Light St. will be about 72 percent leased.

“I am very pleased to see another strong corporate name with global recognition added to Baltimore’s beautiful downtown skyline at 100 Light St.,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a prepared statement. “Just like the iconic Pyramid in San Francisco, Baltimore’s Transamerica Tower will be a prominent downtown landmark and a proud symbol of our city’s strength as a thriving corporate center that is open for business.”

Joseph S. Bonventre, executive vice president and general counsel for Lexington Realty Trust, said it took about two months to put the deal together. He declined to give specifics on the office rental rate but said it was in line with market rates

Lexington Realty Trust, a New York-based firm that owns the building and has offices there, undertook a $44 million renovation of 100 Light St. in 2007 that was completed earlier this year and included construction of a new 550-car parking garage, located across the street from the tower on Lombard Street.

“We feel we successfully repositioned the building to be one of the most desirable locations in Baltimore,” Bonventre said.

Transamerica joins Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver, which said in April it would be leasing more than 94,000 square feet on six floors at 100 Light St. The law firm’s lease started in July and continues through 2026, and the company expects to be fully moved in by April 2011.