It’s hard to believe now, but the Baltimore & Ohio Warehouse, which provides Oriole Park at Camden Yards one of the most iconic backdrops in Major League Baseball, was nearly destroyed to make way for the stadium.
The 51-foot-wide, 1,116-square-foot-long building was built between 1899 and 1905 and used through the 1960s. But after it was abandoned in the 1970s it fell into disrepair, and original plans for the stadium called for the demolition of the building.
Baltimore Heritage and Maryland State Senator Jack Lapides led the fight to preserve the warehouse and the rehabilitation of Camden Station. “Leadership from the Maryland Stadium Authority responded and, with support from the Baltimore Orioles, architects Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum and RTKL Associates transformed the vacant warehouse into the star attraction of the new stadium complex,” according to Baltimore Heritage’s website.
The decision to keep the warehouse has done more than turn it into one of the most distinctive features of any stadium in the world. It also created some of the most sought-after office space in Baltimore. The office space at the building, which is home to more than just the Baltimore Orioles, has been 100 percent leased for about the past five years and was 95 percent leased before the authority found a tenant for a small space in the building. It’s an achievement no doubt made easier by its location in a section of the city that has seen office vacancy rates as high as 20 percent in the past years.
Maryland Stadium Authority Chief Financial Officer David Raith said transportation at the warehouse also makes the offices a very attractive option. There are 5,000 parking spaces that are offered at a discounted rate compared to downtown garages. Companies at the warehouse are charged about $100 to $150 a month for parking compared to $200 to $250 a month in area garages. The stadium’s location right on a MARC line and the Light Rail also provide mass transit options as well.
The offices, which are managed by the Maryland Stadium Authority, have also presented the that state entity with a steady source of revenue. Raith said they are collecting about $3.9 million a year from office tenant. Telecommunication contracts for placing things like satellites dishes on the roof take in another $500,000 a year.
“It’s hard to believe [tearing down the warehouse] was the original concept behind it. It’s worked out to everybody’s benefit to have the building here,” Raith said. “It’s just renowned, when you talk about Camden Yards they all talk about the warehouse at the same time, too.”
The high demand for office space in the area means that the Maryland Stadium Authority hasn’t had to make deep discounts in rates to attract tenants like at other properties in Baltimore traditional Central Business District, particularly west of Charles Street. According to data provided by the authority, it is charging tenants, all with long-term leases, between $16.97 and $23.88-per-square-foot for office space in the warehouse. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the average rent for Class A office space in Baltimore’s traditional Central Business District is currently $22.77 per square foot.
“I don’t really have to cut deals to get people here,” Raith said.
That’s not to say there aren’t some challenges at the warehouse. One complication is that if the Orioles have a relatively rare day game during the week tenants can’t use the parking because the team reserves the right to use the spaces. Raith also said the warehouse, for a Class A office space, doesn’t have the options for eating out nearby that properties closer to the Inner Harbor can offer. But in the grand scheme of things Raith admits those are minor complications.
“Most of the tenants that are coming in are looking for long-term leases. They’re not on short-term leases,” he said. “So, it’s very easy and people are always calling to see if there are spaces available.”
|Tenant name||Square footage||Current rate
(dollars per square foot)
|Exit 10 Advertising LLC||8,624||$19|
|Penonni Associates, Inc.||4,026||$23.88|
|Moag & Company||2,754||$16.97|
|Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.||65,702||$21.43|
|XLHealth Corporation (United Healthcare Group)||68,883||$23.20|