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Colliers' Bob Manekin tells us Baltimore's Downtown office market is doing just fine, thank you very much. (And he may thank you if you say hi when he speaks at ourFuture of Downtown & the Waterfrontevent on July 26 at the Four Seasons.)
Brendan Lough and Bob Manekin, 2011
Quoting Mark Twain, Bob (right, at a Bisnow event with CBRE's Brendan Lough) says, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." He's talking about Downtown Baltimore office space, where the explanation for no new development is quite simple: "There's no new demand." (He does feel the City and major Downtown landllords could do a better job of marketing Downtown to tenants from other markets, especially DC and NYC.) Still, he says Baltimore's Class-A office vacancy, now 15.5%, has declined significantly from '09's 22%. Plus, it's better than the national average of 17%. Oh and on Pratt Street, which Bob calls "the Park Avenue of the Baltimore office market," vacancy is 11.5%.

Transamerica Tower, 100 Light St
He also reminds us how far the Inner Harbor has come. In the early '70s, when the trophy USF&G Building (above) went up, the Inner Harbor was a "backwater cesspool," Bob says. (That put a real damper on any aquatic sports.) In fact, all the 35-story 100 Light St tower's windows had granite railings to block the view down to the water. As part of its recent makeover after Legg Mason left,Lexington Realty Trust spent good money to take those railings down. Bob repped Miles & Stockbridge in its 120k SF lease there, which starts next April. He says Lexington Realty is a smart, flexible, and nimble landlord that recognized what it had to do (like buying a building across Lombard Street so it could build a parking garage for new tenants and working hard to keep the Center Club in place).
Despite his favorable view of Baltimore's office market, Bob is, in his own words, "a broker and therefore no Polyanna." That also means some of his stronger opinions aren't, shall we say, suitable for print. Guess you're going to have to come to the event to hear the rest of the story from this longtime Downtown Baltimore office market observer. Plus, you'll also hear from The Cordish Cos' Blake Cordish, Greater Baltimore Committee prez Donald Fry, and Brown Craig Turner CEO Bryce Turner (there he is below). Sign up here for all that and plenty of schmoozing.