April 5, 2010

Hopkins buys former Zurich property

Johns Hopkins on March 30 completed the acquisition of the former Zurich Insurance Co. property in North Baltimore, which it will use primarily to consolidate financial operations and information technology currently located at a number of locations.

The Zurich property, which will undergo renovations before it is occupied later this year, contains approximately 415,000 square feet of usable space in two buildings on the site. The spaces are large with open floors and a data center, making them ideal for their intended use.

Located at 40th Street and Keswick Road, less than a half-mile from the university’s Homewood campus, the property includes 1,500 parking spaces, a cafeteria, an auditorium, classrooms and meeting space.

The property was acquired by a subsidiary jointly owned by the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System.

“We’re pleased with both the property and the process we’ve gone through to acquire the space,” said James T. McGill, the university’s senior vice president for finance and administration. “The property’s location, layout, infrastructure and amenities make it a very attractive facility for the Johns Hopkins Institutions.”

Ronald Werthman, vice president for finance for the Johns Hopkins Health System, said that the institutions’ purchase of the Zurich property makes sense for the future.

“The more we looked at both our future needs and what we’re paying now to operate in leased and owned space throughout the metro area, the clearer it became that buying this property made good economic sense for both entities,” Werthman said.

Employees who currently work on the Bayview and Eastern campuses will be the first to move into the spaces. Other Johns Hopkins tenants will move into the buildings as leases expire and other business considerations dictate.

The university and health system, though they are separate corporations, have combined several large back-office operations, such as purchasing and accounts payable and receivable, into what they call “shared services centers” that serve both entities. Some of those centers, which work together on a daily basis, are prime candidates for being located at the Zurich property, as are other still-separate university and health system offices that often collaborate.

Some Johns Hopkins groups, particularly those supporting business functions, are also candidates for the Zurich property, though Johns Hopkins will continue to operate data centers elsewhere.