The Johns Hopkins University has signed a letter of intent to pursue the purchase of the 68-acre Mount Washington Corporate Campus from the St. Paul Cos.
Johns Hopkins hopes to relocate administrative offices to the north Baltimore site to make room for expanded research, patient care and academic facilities at its other Baltimore campuses.
"Johns Hopkins has added about 1,000 jobs in Maryland in each of the past three years," said William R. Brody, president of the university. "We expect to keep growing at nearly that pace as academic and clinical programs expand and our scientists win more federal research dollars. We're committed to keeping as many of those new jobs as we can in our home city of Baltimore; this acquisition of a spectacular property will help us do that."
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said, "The city is fortunate to have the Mount Washington Corporate Campus available to accommodate the continuing growth of one of our region's premier institutions. The spectacular job creation of Johns Hopkins over the past three years has been a bright spot for Baltimore in these challenging economic times."
If the sale is concluded after a 45-day study period expires, the university and Johns Hopkins Medicine intend eventually to occupy about 280,000 square feet of office space on the Baltimore City side of the property.
The remainder would continue to be leased to other tenants or used, as part of the facility is now, as a conference center. The continuation of the third-party leasing and conference business represent, in part, a diversification of the university's endowment and other investments, which currently have minimal real estate holdings. In all, there are nearly 650,000 square feet of office or other occupied space at the Mount Washington campus.
The Mount Washington purchase continues a series of university moves intended to keep new Johns Hopkins jobs within the city. The university announced earlier this year that it is moving about 220 employees from its East Baltimore medical campus into leased facilities in Fells Point and downtown Baltimore, again to free up space for expansion of research and patient care activities. It also recently moved a number of administrative offices and more than 300 employees into renovated space at the former Eastern High School on 33rd Street, which the university bought from the city.
The Mount Washington Corporate Campus straddles the Baltimore City-Baltimore County line just west of the Jones Falls Expressway, off Smith Avenue near Mount Washington Village. The former site of Mount St. Agnes College, the property has in recent years been owned and used by United States Fidelity & Guarantee Co. and then by the St. Paul Cos., which merged with USF&G in 1998.
The site includes five major buildings. On the northern end of the campus, in Baltimore County, is the Founders Building, a 250,000-square-foot building leased to Piper Rudnick LLP and other tenants at least until 2010. On the southern side of the property, within the city, are the historic 1855 Octagon and the renovated 1925 McAuley Hall. Also on the southern end are the conference center, adjacent to the Octagon, and Davis Hall, a building designed for computer operations.
Under the letter of intent, The St. Paul Cos. would continue to occupy, as a rental tenant, about 190,000 square feet on the southern part of the campus for a period of time. The Minnesota-based insurer has said that, after that time, it intends to keep its current Baltimore-based operations in the Baltimore area.
Johns Hopkins would start moving employees into the 90,000 square feet of non-St. Paul space on the southern end late this year or early next year, starting with a computer center and Johns Hopkins Medicine Access Services, both now located in East Baltimore. Other future university tenants are now being identified to fill the space that will eventually be vacated by St. Paul.
The campus could also accommodate some future development, though none is currently planned.