STATE CENTER: THE OTHER SIDE
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|Five months ago, we caught you up on the plaintiffs' side of State Center (the ones who don't want it to be redeveloped). Here's what the projects' champions have to say about it. (Next up: what the ghost of Freddie Mercury and Queen think.)|
|We snapped Ekistics CEO Caroline Moore and MDOT Office of Real Estate's Chris Patusky. He was the state's head real estate guy when the project was initiated and now is State Center manager for MDOT. The pair tells us approvals for Phase 1 are in place and all partners remain committed to the project, despite the five years (and counting) that it's been in planning and then tied up in the courts. (Most marriages don't last that kind of strain.) The two big CBD landlords among the plaintiff party dropped out of the suit in December, so Caroline is hopeful for an outside-the-courtroom end to it all soon.|
|We also snapped 300 W Preston St, one of five state-occupied buildings (built in the '50s and '70s) on the 28-acre site. They're surrounded by a Metro stop, a light-rail stop, a pair of universities, and a cultural district, but the fortress feel and lack of ground-floor amenities divide the nine neighboring communities, Caroline and Chris say, adding that mixed-use would unite those areas more than pure office. They also say private developers are better suited to mixed-use development. Opponents fear that state government tenants will move here and gut the CBD's tenant pool. That play is not reviewable (can you tell we're really into the NFL playoffs?), so what is being debated in court instead is the opponents' claim that the project was awarded to Ekistics through handshakes, not due diligence.|
|Caroline and Chris' response to tenant movement: While the MD Transit Administration would indeed move from 6 St. Paul St to State Center's Phase 1, a tenant from State Center's 301 W Preston (above) would trade places. Addtionally, the governor and mayor have committed to maintaining the State's current presence in the CBD. As for the selection of Ekistics via a Request for Qualifications instead of a Request for Proposal, Caroline and Chris say an RFQ is the only way to incorporate up-to-the-minute market demand. (Current plans: 1,400 residences, 250k SF of retail, and 2M SF of office, 15k SF of the office slated for Phase 1). Caroline says that an RFP from her company originally would have included more condos, for instance, which would never fly now, and that prices (required in an RFP) are too hard to peg down for a 15-year buildout.|