McCormick's HQ search could spark a bidding war among economic development officials
June 5, 2014

Spice maker McCormick & Co. Inc. is sure to attract plenty of attention from landlords and economic development officials as it weighs a potential relocation from its longtime Baltimore County headquarters.

My colleague, Kevin Litten, reported Wednesday that McCormick is looking for between 300,000 and 350,000 square feet of office space and has cast a fairly wide net that extends into Northern Virginia and suburban D.C. but also includes southern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The company is working with CBRE Group Inc., which issued a request for information outlining some of McCormick's requirements. Prime among them, McCormick doesn't need to be in its new space until April 2018, leaving plenty of time for new construction.

The search is likely to reignite that cross-border competition economic development officials in Maryland and Virginia say doesn't actually exist but really does, as we've seen in the heated pursuit for the FBI, Bechtel, Intelsat S.A. and Sodexo USA, just to name a few.

McCormick officials have said they want to be "as close as we possibly can" to the company's Baltimore County headquarters, but how far landlords can stretch that is subject to interpretation.

"That could be anywhere," Studley tenant rep Tom Fulcher told me. "They have four years to go, and in such a wide area, that could be anywhere."

Fulcher said going out in the market this early could help sweeten the government incentive pot. But more to the point, he said, McCormick is setting the stage to get as advantageous a deal as possible.

So why so broad a search area, and why so fuzzy in its definition? The most logical assumption would be to kick off a bidding war among landlords and economic development officials. A lag time of four years is enough for local and state governments to draft their incentive packages, as seen with Intelsat and Sodexo....

McCormick's HQ search could spark a bidding war among economic development officials

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