Radio One moving headquarters to Silver Spring after long flirtation with D.C.

Radio One is moving its corporate headquarters from Lanham to Silver Spring, ending a years-long effort by the company to return to the District, where it was founded by Catherine Hughes in 1980.

The company, owner of 53 urban radio stations in 16 markets nationwide, pursued a move to the District before the economy battered the radio broadcasting industry and the real estate market. It would have anchored a new mixed-use project atop a Metrorail station in the Shaw neighborhood.

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Hughes, the company’s chairwoman, who founded the company on H Street NE, made a plea to the D.C. Council to support the Shaw project in 2007. The council and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) obliged, providing a package of subsidies with an estimated value of $30 million. The project was to be named Broadcast Center One and have a ground-floor recording studio. The company has five Washington area stations, including WKYS (93.9 FM).

But Radio One’s stock price dove during the recession as a result of dwindling advertising sales, under-performing assets and high debt levels, and early last year it pulled out of the Shaw project, at Seventh and S streets NW. Its stock has been trading around $2 in recent months.

After restarting its search, the company settled on space just across the border from the District, on the top floor of a Silver Spring office building called the Atrium at Station Square. At 1010 Wayne Ave., the building is near a Red Line Metrorail station and a MARC train station and is home to the company’s TV One unit.

Radio One declined to comment, but according to Moore & Associates, the Bethesda firm that owns and operates the building, TV One extended its lease and the Radio One corporate headquarters will relocate to 23,000 square feet of space in September. CoStar Group, the commercial real estate data firm, posted information about the lease online last week.

“We were always kind of in the running, so to speak,” said Vince Coviello, executive vice president at Moore & Associates. “We had some timely turnover of space, so the top floor became available and some space below that.”

To keep Radio One, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) provided the firm with a $400,000 grant that requires the company to invest at least $1.25 million in the move by the end of 2012 and maintain at least 210 employees there throughout the six-year lease. Karen Glenn Hood, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, said it was important to keep the jobs in the state.

“They were looking to move into D.C., so obviously it was important for us to keep them here,” she said. “Obviously, retaining these jobs is important.”

Steve Silverman, Montgomery County’s director of economic development, said the county also played a role in the deal but declined to comment before Radio One made an announcement.

For the District, Radio One’s move is a loss, but the developers behind the real estate project in Shaw — Four Points, Ellis Development Group and the Jarvis Co. — replaced Radio One with the United Negro College Fund as anchor. The building has since been renamed Progression Place and is under construction.

 
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