Downtown Baltimore’s office market will soon have a first-of-its kind offering, courtesy of a new project by 28 Walker Development. The company has just announced plans for 40TEN, a 125,000-square-foot building that will be the only office property in the area built entirely of heavy wood timber materials.
40TEN will take shape at 4010 Boston St., within 28 Walker’s Collective at Canton mixed-use development. The five-story building will benefit from heavy timber’s energy efficient attributes, which offer not just a green atmosphere, but a visually pleasing one, with an organic exterior and interior design of natural wood columns and exposed wood ceilings. “Heavy timber represents a unique design aesthetic that provides a rich warm environment like no other office environment,” Mark Sapperstein, CEO of 28 Walker Development, told Commercial Property Executive. “We believe that if an office tenant wants to work in a run-of-the-mill standard office building, there are plenty of those already within the city of Baltimore and we didn’t need to add to that.”
The development of 40TEN is a speculative endeavor, and 28 Walker was not hesitant to move forward without a commitment in place despite the uncertainty in the office market due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic turmoil. The company has reason to be confident. “We wanted to build upon significant demand drivers that we experienced in our Phillips Seafood office renovation in which companies were drawn to buildings with unique character and charm,” Sapperstein added. 28 Walker’s Philips Seafood redevelopment in Baltimore resulted in the highly successful McHenry Row mixed-use project, which contains a 400,000-square-foot office segment that is currently 99 percent leased.
Already, 40TEN has attracted the attention of Celebree School, which preleased approximately 10,300 square feet of office space. The childhood education and care center will also have the use of a 6,000-square-foot outside playground area. 28 Walker expects to complete 40TEN in early 2022.
A new kind of demand
As noted in a report by NAI KLNB, which is spearheading leasing for 40TEN, demand for office space at the close of 2020 remained subdued due to the pandemic, leaving Baltimore with an average Class A vacancy rate of 13.7 percent. Some companies are now considering reducing their footprint in favor of long-term remote work options, some are focused on rearranging or expanding space to accommodate social distancing, and some are taking a wait-and-see approach. Regardless, 28 Walker sees a strong future for the office sector.
“We don’t believe that companies will do away with office space altogether, but they will reevaluate how much they need and how they will use it. And as companies reevaluate their space, they will focus on improving the in-office experience for their workers,” Sapperstein contended. He added that the factors that will drive demand in the post-pandemic environment will include the call for “more efficient space with flexible space plans; reduced footprints within highly amenitized buildings, space designed for work and wellbeing; and space within buildings designed to attract the next generation of workforce.” NAI KLNB reports that 40TEN is receiving significant interest from companies interested in relocating their offices, as well as from commercial real estate professionals.