- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

Washington Gas Light Co. said yesterday it will move its headquarters to Constitution Avenue near the Capitol as part of a plan to expand its corporate work space across the region.

The company, which provides natural gas to 960,000 customers in and around the District, said it will lease 74,000 square feet at 101 Constitution Ave. NW.

The new headquarters will be occupied by executive offices and will be the site for most legal and corporate activity. It also will have a customer service office.

For Washington Gas, the move brings the company closer to Capitol Hill from its offices at 1100 H St. NW. The new headquarters is also more modern. Washington Gas has been at its H Street headquarters since 1945. It occupies between 90,000 and 100,000 square feet, but does not use all of the space, spokesman Tim Sargeant said.

The move to the new headquarters marks the first stage of a major overhaul of the company's workplace arrangements. Washington Gas plans to embark on a three- to five-year project to renovate its 500,000-square-foot operations center in Springfield. It also will upgrade facilities in Rockville and Forestville.

"We are designing a work environment that will meet the needs of the modern work force while continuing to focus on achieving our goals," Washington Gas Chairman and Chief Executive James H. DeGraffenreidt Jr. said in a statement.

Washington Gas said it sold its headquarters to RB Associates Inc., a D.C. real estate manager, for $16.3 million. Its new Constitution Avenue headquarters, owned by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, is next to the Labor Department.


Health in Hyattsville

Plans to develop a town center in Prince George's County moved forward this week as county officials and developers dedicated a 178,000-square-foot office building in Hyattsville.

The National Center for Health Statistics moved into new headquarters at 3311 Toledo Road at the site known as Metro Four. It marked a 40,000-square-foot expansion for the center and the opening of one of the largest new buildings in the county. The building will be part of a new development called University Town Center, which has about 1.2 million square feet of planned office space.

"The significant thing for us is that this is the first part of the town-center concept," said Tim Taylor, director of leasing for Prince George's Metro Center Inc., which is developing the complex. "The goal is for this to be the new downtown of Prince George's County."

Prince George's Metro Center Inc., headed by longtime county developer Herschel Blumberg, is working to attract as much as 250,000 square feet of retail, with a movie theater and 25 upscale apartments.

It has negotiated with several retail teams including Johnson Development, headed by former professional basketball player Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Mr. Johnson previously worked with Starbucks to open a coffee shop near the town center.

The project also includes a new sculpture from artist Philip Ratner and replicas of 18 important historical documents to be on display at a landscaped area called the "Document Garden."

Real estate analysts said the new building should provide a boost for the county, particularly if plans to attract new retail and a movie theater come to fruition.

"It's good news. It's a nice new building," said Dave DiNardo, a senior vice president with Grubb and Ellis' Maryland office. "It's a good deal for the county."


In other news

•The Commodity Futures Trading Commission renewed its lease of 165,000 square feet at 1125 21st St. NW. It has occupied the space since 1995. Real estate services firm Julien J. Studley helped broker the deal.

•Howard County gave approval for the first phase of development of Maple Lawn, a planned community at the intersection of routes 29 and 216 near Columbia. Greenebaum and Rose Associates will build the community, which calls for 1 million square feet of office space, 1,116 houses and 150,000 square feet of retail space.

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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