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Dozen MD State Agencies To Relocate To Downtown Baltimore

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Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR
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Gov. Larry Hogan at McKeldin Plaza in downtown Baltimore

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday 3,300 state employees from 12 agencies will soon move to offices in and near Baltimore’s central business district.

“Today we are here to talk about a shot in the arm for the recovery and revitalization of downtown Baltimore,” Hogan said at a news conference at the Inner Harbor.

Thousands of state employees currently work at the aging State Center complex, located in midtown Baltimore.

The governor said he worked with State Senate President Bill Ferguson to set aside $50 million for the plan.

The announcement comes after years of efforts by three governors, including Hogan, to move state workers downtown and redevelop the State Center. But those efforts have been tied up in lawsuits.

Hogan, who previously announced in 2019 he would seek to redevelop the State Center, did not specify Monday what would happen to the complex.

Ferguson said the plan started with requests from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, which wanted state help to boost the central business district (CBD)’s economy.

He then approached Hogan about relocating state offices. Ferguson said Hogan quickly expressed support.

“We face a challenge where businesses are reevaluating: what space do they need? Where do they need to locate? What does their future look like?” Ferguson said Monday.

As Marylanders continue to work remotely, Lt. Gov Boyd Rutherford said the pandemic has forced the state to think about how to reduce overall real estate costs.

“We recognize that many of our state facilities are in such poor condition that it’s currently costing us more money to maintain those buildings than to rent property downtown and rent well kept property downtown,” Rutherford said.

The announcement comes as downtown office vacancies are on the rise. Shelonda Stokes, the President of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, says the district’s vacancy rate is near 24%.

“Relocating state agencies into the CBD will create an integrated, transit rich, walkable complex with nearby amenities for state employees,” Stokes said.

Mayor Brandon Scott was not in attendance, but issued a written statement thanking Hogan and Ferguson.

“While this timely investment seeks to retain jobs and stimulate absorption in the downtown office market, my administration will work with stakeholders to ensure surrounding neighborhoods can also benefit,” the statement reads.