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State agencies’ move to downtown Baltimore expected to take 2 years

The boundaries that the state has set for the central business district are Martin Luther King Boulevard to the West, Franklin Street to the North, the Jones Falls Expressway to the East and Pratt Street to the South, (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

The boundaries that the state has set for the central business district are Martin Luther King Boulevard to the West, Franklin Street to the North, the Jones Falls Expressway to the East and Pratt Street to the South. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to transplant thousands of state employees to Baltimore’s central business district will take about two years to complete, officials said on Tuesday.

The state has begun putting out requests for proposals for prospective landlords, and each of the 12 agencies moving into the downtown area will have its own RPF based on its unique needs. From there, the lease acquisition process can take a little over a year.

After the leases are approved by the Board of Public Works, ideally by the end of October 2022, the subsequent space design and move-in is expected to take approximately six more months, Nelson Reichart, acting secretary of general services, said during a Downtown Partnership of Baltimore event.

The boundaries that the state has set for the central business district are Martin Luther King Boulevard to the West, Franklin Street to the North, the Jones Falls Expressway to the East and Pratt Street to the South, though some agencies may have further specifications of where they want to be within that district; the Public Defender’s Office is seeking real estate within a few blocks of the circuit court, for example.

Depending on the needs of the different agencies, multiple agencies could be in the same building, or larger agencies could be spread between multiple buildings. All told, roughly 3,300 state employees will be shifted.

Though cost is the most important factor in choosing a location for these offices, other considerations include proximity to public transportation and what energy efficiency features the building has. New work-from-home considerations that have risen out of the pandemic may also influence both space needs and parking needs.

The $50 million price tag on the move will go towards a variety of costs ranging from creating new signage for the agencies to purchasing new IT equipment, Reichart said.

“Fifty million sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but with something of this magnitude going on, it will be used quite effectively to cover all those costs,” he added.

Reichart also addressed the future of the aging State Center complex that currently houses these agencies. The campus, which boarders Upton and Midtown, was previously slated for a redevelopment project that was canceled last year, leading to a legal dispute with the project’s former developer.

Due to the dispute, no specific plans for the space exist, he said, but he added that there is still hope the complex could be transformed into a mixed-use development.

“We know that there’s interest out there,” Reichart said, referencing that fact that eight different developers had previously indicated interest in redeveloping State Center. “We’re excited for the future of it, as well.”


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