COLUMBIA, MD-Local firm Manekin LLC is developing a 120,000-sf, $30-million build-to-suit headquarters here for Merkle, a database marketing firm. Merkle will be investing more than $65 million in its new headquarters, including the purchase of equipment and furniture, Cole Schnorf, senior vice president and director of development at Manekin, tells GlobeSt.com.

The development costs of the five-story building, which include Manekin’s profit for the sale of the building to Merkle, will be roughly $30 million. “One reason Merkle opted for a build-to-suit facility was the difficulty in finding 120,000 sf of vacant office space in Howard County,” he adds.

Currently, Merkle has about 350 employees at its Lanham headquarters, out of a total 1,000 employees nationwide. The company’s growth plans include bringing its headquarters staff up to 550.

The 120,000-sf new building will accommodate this growth. Development plans also call for a 10,000-sf data center. Manekin is now in the process of acquiring the 7.7 acres of land for headquarters from General Growth Properties in the Columbia Gateway Business Community. The plot also has an adjacent four-acre parcel for another 70,000-sf building that could support an additional 350 employees.

When finished, the class A office project will be located at the corner of Benjamin Franklin and Columbia Gateway Drives.

The company spent six months or more deciding where to invest. “Our new headquarters will place Merkle in an area with a strong talent base of highly skilled professionals, and will provide ample room to accommodate our future growth plans and enable us to provide an outstanding work environment for our staff,” says David Williams, Merkle’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Manekin Construction will break ground on the building in April. It will deliver the building in June 2008. Design Collective Inc. is the architect, Studio B2SJ is the interior design firm and GLW-Gutschick, Little & Weber, P.A. is the civil engineer. The Staubach Co. is the project consultant.

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