- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

The University of Maryland is scheduled to open another government facility this week as it expands one of the region’s largest research parks.

The Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), a national laboratory, is opening at the university’s M Square research park on the site of a renovated manufacturing plant.

Like other University of Maryland research facilities, it will depend heavily on government contracts.

“CASL’s mission is to serve the government and the nation in the critical area of language research,” said Richard Brecht, CASL’s executive director. “Research on how language is learned and used is critical to the major breakthroughs that the defense and intelligence communities are expecting from the center.”

Other government facilities at the M Square research park are run by the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the American Center for Physics.

In addition, site work has begun for a 235,000-square-foot facility for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service.

University officials said the center would be the nation’s largest language research facility and the first to operate with national security clearance.

The more than 110,000-square-foot facility operates with 75 researchers and staff members, but the number of employees is scheduled to double by 2007.

The center’s research will focus on how stress and fatigue impair foreign-language competency, the best techniques for acquiring high-level language skills, mastering Arabic dialects and pre-deployment language training for the military.

M Square is located on 128 acres near the College Park Metro station.

Among the speakers scheduled for the opening ceremony Thursday are CIA Director Porter J. Goss and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

In other news …

• A decrease in sublease office space in the past two years is making the leasing market more robust for property owners but more expensive for their tenants, says a report from D.C. commercial real estate firm Spaulding & Slye Colliers.

Sublease space becomes available when tenants lease part of their own offices, usually because they are downsizing.

From 2001 through 2003, an abundance of sublease space was a problem for the region’s office property owners, especially in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland.

Northern Virginia’s subleased office space has fallen from 8 million square feet in 2001 to 3.4 million square feet in the second quarter of 2005, Spaulding & Slye Colliers reported.

The difference is that in 2001 Northern Virginia telecommunications companies were closing or downsizing. Now, Northern Virginia’s economy is growing with the arrival of new government contractors.

In suburban Maryland, sublease space has decreased from a high of 2.9 million square feet at a peak in 2003 to 1.9 million square feet in the second quarter of 2005.

• In another sign of the District’s expanding legal industry, Bates White LLC last week agreed to lease 62,421 square feet of office space in the Franklin Square complex at 1300 I St. NW. Bates White provides business analytics consulting to major law firms.

Property Lines runs Mondays. Contact Tom Ramstack at tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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