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COPT adds cybersecurity leases as Columbia’s industry appeal endures

Corporate Office Properties Trust said it has signed leases with a pair of cybersecurity firms in Columbia, benefiting from the area’s continued allure for that industry.

iNovex and Red Alpha both signed deals for space at Columbia Gateway. Hanover-based iNovex plans to occupy 11,900 square feet at 6950 Columbia Gateway Drive. Red Alpha, which is currently based at Annapolis Junction, will expand into 6,200 feet in the same property.

“Given its proximity to Fort Meade, direct access to (Interstate) 95, and the rich base of retail, health, and entertainment amenities that surround it, Columbia Gateway continues to be a preferred location for cybersecurity and advanced technology companies. We are thrilled that iNovex and Red Alpha will add their ranks to the growing ecosystem of cybersecurity innovators in Columbia Gateway,” Paul R. Adkins, chief operating officer and executive vice president of COPT, said in a statement.

Developers throughout the I-95 corridor from north of Baltimore to the Washington suburbs are banking on cybersecurity remaining a growth industry able to absorb an influx of targeted new office product.

Weller Development Co. in the fall of 2018 revealed plans to turn a portion of the $5.5 billion Port Covington project into what’s called “Cyber Town USA,” the world’s largest hub for emerging firms in the industry.

Slated to be Port Covington’s first tenants are cybersecurity startup studio DataTribe; AllegisCyber, the world’s largest cybersecurity venture capital firm that boasts a $400 million investment fund; and investment bank and Columbia-based corporate advisory firm Evergreen Advisors.

COPT said it has completed 2.5 million square feet of leasing with cybersecurity firms since the U.S. Cyber Command started operating at nearby Fort Meade in 2011. Roughly 30% of the publicly traded real estate company’s 8.1 million-square-foot portfolio in Maryland is leased to cybersecurity users.

Freedom Consulting Group recently leased 25,500 square feet at 7061 Columbia Gateway. Analysis, Computing and Engineering Solutions, (ACES) Inc. and Sealing Technologies expanded at 7134 Columbia Gateway Drive.

COPT has invested in transforming many of its Columbia Gateway offices recently. The firm overhauled the property at 7134 Columbia Gateway Drive in 2018 using its “CIRQL” redevelopment strategy.

That same style of redevelopment was completed at 6950 Columbia Gateway, where iNovex and Red Alpha leased space. The 106,000-square-foot Class A office building reopened in June, and including the two most recent cybersecurity deals is 75% leased, according to the owner.

The office markets in the Columbia and the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport areas, the submarkets closest to Fort Meade, were reportedly off to a solid start in 2019.

Columbia’s office market includes more than 11.5 million square feet of office space across all building classes. It posted a 12.7% overall vacancy rate, and tenants leased nearly 28,000 square feet office space last quarter. The Class A asking rent is $26.70 per square foot, according to a report from commercial real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank.

The BWI submarket, with more than 9.6 million square feet of all classes of office space, experienced a 10.8% overall vacancy rate in the first quarter of the year. Tenants absorbed 17,400 square feet of office space. Class A asking rents reached $30.97 per square foot.

By comparison, Baltimore’s 15.3 million square feet of office space in its traditional central business district recorded an overall vacant rate of nearly 17%, according to the same report. Average asking rent for top-tier office space in the submarket reached $25.15 per square foot, while tenants leased 34,121 square feet.


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