SSA’s New Build-to-Suit Deal Marks Baltimore’s Largest-Ever Office Lease

A bevy of officials from the city level to the federal government came together to announce publicly the U.S. General Services Administration's selection of the JBG Companies to develop a $150 million build-to-suit office facility for the Social Security Administration.

October 20, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

The city of Baltimore kicked off the week by making history, well, local history at least. On Tuesday, a bevy of officials from the city level to the federal government came together to announce publicly the U.S. General Services Administration’s selection of the JBG Companies to develop a $150 million build-to-suit office facility for the Social Security Administration. With JBG in place to develop and own the 538,000 square-foot property, the GSA signed a 20-year lease agreement with the real estate company, marking what is being touted among the local real estate community as the largest single office lease deal ever to transpire in Charm City.

Replacing the agency’s current home at the Metro West Complex at 300 North Greene Street, the new SSA offices will occupy an 11-acre parcel at 6100 Wabash Avenue, just across from the Reisterstown Plaza Metro station. The Maryland Department of Transportation owns the land, but it will come under JBG’s ownership once the GSA exercises a purchase option with a transfer price of $6 million. JBG, along with development partner Klein Enterprises, will erect a five-story office building, a seven-story office building, a 1,076-space parking facility and a daycare center at the site. “This new, transit-oriented development will keep good paying jobs in the city, support hundreds of construction jobs, and serve as a major anchor for the revitalization efforts underway in Northwest Baltimore,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Mayor Rawlings-Blake said at the gathering.

Architectural and engineering firm AECOM is on board as designer of SSA’s new office complex, which will feature green elements beyond its status as a TOD and meet the requirements to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver certification. “The U.S. General Services Administration is providing efficient workspace vital to the mission of the Social Security Administration through partnership with the Maryland State and Baltimore City government,” said GSA Regional Administrator David H. Ehrenwerth. “This partnership is allowing local and federal government to reduce underutilized space and enhance the local community in an environmentally responsible way.” The 30-year-old, multi-structure Metro West Complex on Greene Street consists of approximately 1 million square feet, only 750,000 square feet of which were occupied as of mid-2009, according to a federal government document.

Turner Construction is the general contractor for the new SSA office complex and will oversee construction activity scheduled to commence in 2011. If all goes as planned, the development of the campus will reach completion in early 2014, and 1,500 federal employees will take occupancy.

As for SSA’s current digs approximately 5 miles away on Greene Street, the GSA may opt to sell the property. Until it disposes of the facility, an unneeded chunk of vacant office space, albeit outdated, will be added to the city’s office market four years from now. At present, according to a third quarter report by commercial real estate research firm Delta Associates, Metropolitan Baltimore’s overall office vacancy rate is 14 percent, an increase from third quarter 2009’s vacancy rate of 13.7 percent.