Leroy Merritt, who founded our company more than 50 years ago, often completed deals on a handshake. That level of trust and respect continues at Merritt today. We're committed to honest and fair business dealings that grow our customer relationships into long-term partnerships.
As a full-service commercial real estate firm with over 19 million square feet in more than 70 locations, we own and manage more commercial space than any privately held developer in the Baltimore/Washington area and have an unmatched reputation for our commitment to our customers.
Born in 1930, Leroy is raised in a blue collar area dominated by the local steel mill and shipyard. As a young boy working in his parents’ restaurant during the Depression, Leroy learns early the importance of pitching in, working hard and taking care of your customers. With a strong work ethic and aspirations beyond a job in the steel mill, Leroy earns a Senatorial Scholarship to attend Western Maryland College where his entrepreneurial spirit leads him to his first business venture—selling hotdogs and sandwiches in the dorms at night after the cafeteria closed. During summers home from college, he is given his start in construction, working for his uncles who had established a masonry business after returning from World War II.
After graduating from college and serving the two-year teaching commitment required by his scholarship, Leroy begins building houses, often on spec. He builds more than 60 homes in 10 years.
In search of an honest builder with whom to partner on apartment buildings, Ed St. John is pointed to Leroy. The two agree to work together. However, instead of apartment buildings, they decide to take advantage of the burgeoning demand for rental warehouse space, a revolutionary concept at the time. They complete their first building—16,000 square feet at 2900 Stafford Street—in southwest Baltimore City, which begins a four-year collaboration between the two men.
After four years, Leroy and Ed recognize that they each have their own unique philosophy on business and agree to split the company. Rather than employing a cast of lawyers and accountants, Ed divides the properties into two groups, and Leroy chooses. They move forward separately, each building successful commercial real estate companies and remaining life-long, friendly competitors. After the split, Leroy moves his company into its first offices on Brighton Avenue.
Scott Dorsey, Leroy’s cousin, joins Leroy’s new company after having spent 5 summers with his father’s concrete company pouring floors for Ed and Leroy’s warehouses. For years, Leroy and Scott share a “desk” made from a door set atop filing cabinets. This allows Scott to learn first-hand Leroy’s approach to business and gift for building long-lasting relationships with customers and vendors alike.
Wishing to make his simple brick warehouses look a little nicer for his customers, Leroy decides to add a mansard roof to two buildings at Aylesbury Business Center. He is surprised to receive a call from the county, expressing concern that the roof may not meet code requirements. While meeting with county officials to review the mansard, a senior official suggests to Leroy that the issue can easily be resolved with a $5,000 contribution to the county executive’s re-election campaign. Leroy refuses and spends over $13,000 fighting the county. He prevails and to this day, the mansard roof is a signature design element on Merritt buildings.The mansard also becomes a symbol to Merritt employees, reminding them of Leroy’s mantra to do what’s right, not what is expedient.
As a recognizable feature on Merritt buildings and a symbol of Leroy’s basic business principles, the mansard roof is incorporated into the company’s logo.
At the forefront of the racquetball craze, Merritt is approached to lease space for courts in Towson, MD. Unfortunately, once the space is completed, Leroy learns that the investors have backed out of the deal. Recognizing a new opportunity, Leroy takes over the business and opens the first Merritt racquetball facility, the Towson Court Club.
Always interested in new technologies and the efficiencies they bring, Merritt adds the IBM System 32 to the office.
The Towson Court Club is a success. As the racquetball craze continues, Merritt decides to open another court club. The Annapolis Club opens. Merritt decides to capitalize on the social aspect of racquetball and adds a full-service bar to the club for members. It’s a hit.
Merritt opens its third court club. The Security Club is the site of many national racquetball championship matches. Some of these matches are televised.
Wanting to bring a first-class office building to customers in the suburbs, Merritt builds Timonium I & II with high-end finishes and building amenities expected in a downtown office.
As the racquetball craze begins to wane, the clubs take advantage of new fitness trends and shift to full-service Athletic Clubs.
Dating back to the late 1800s, this iconic waterfront building originally served as home to the Scarlett Seed Company. Merritt transformed the building, combining unique office and retail spaces that integrate contemporary design with the historical architecture and industrial character of the original building.
After graduating college, Robb Merritt joins his father’s company, learning the business from the ground up as Leroy had. He begins his career on the field construction crew.
Merritt takes over the Downtown Athletic Club. This historic building was a former train repair station in the early 1900s. Members can still see the arches of the building where trains were brought in for repair. The building has the only wooden roof truss system in the state.
Situated in the heart of the burgeoning Columbia business district, Merritt begins construction on an 18-acre park that will ultimately include five class A office buildings and retail.
With the collapse of the real estate market in the early 90s, Merritt’s 25th anniversary coincides with lean times. “Survive ‘til ’95” becomes the rallying cry. Even the company’s Christmas party consists only of a deli tray and beer, served in a vacant warehouse. While certainly not extravagant, the party is a celebration of the comraderie forged from facing adversity, and it becomes one of Robb Merritt’s favorite memories.
With a rebounding economy, Scott Dorsey and Robb Merritt travel to New York to seek equity that will allow the company to take advantage of greater development opportunities. What begins as an 8-year investment from Rothschild Realty, grows into a long-term partnership that continues today.
Working with a facilitator, the Merritt team codifies its core values and tagline, “Creating Homes for Businesses.”
Seeing another opportunity in the growing market of Loudoun County, Merritt begins expanding beyond Maryland into Northern Virginia. Opening the Virginia office at Ashbrook.
Leroy steps away from day-to-day operations, dubbing himself the CFO, Chief Fun Officer. Scott and Robb take over leadership.
Merritt kicks off the new millenium with a building boom, completing 16 new properties with more than 1 million square feet in the year 2000 alone.
Merritt realizes the increased competition of health clubs in Maryland and decides to start branching off into the family marketing. They start construction on their first family-oriented Club in Eldersburg. The 75,000 square foot facility features a day care, children’s dance studio and two indoor pools. The revitalization of some areas in Baltimore City also makes the Federal Hill area very desirable. Merritt opens another location on Fort Avenue in Locust Point that same year.
Merritt becomes an official sponsor of the Baltimore Ravens.
Merritt moves the Fort Ave location from a shopping center to The Foundry, a building owned by Merritt Properties. The club membership has grown so much more space is needed.
The loss of Leroy’s legendary warmth and humor is tremendous, but his ethics and approach to business continue to steer the company forward.
The White Marsh area is shown to be a popular family market with little competition for Clubs. Merritt Properties buys a parcel of land and Merritt Construction builds the White Marsh location. The 55,000 square foot facility features an outdoor pool, large kids center and indoor cardio movie theater.
Merritt notches its seventh LEED-certified building, leading the way in Maryland.
Major expansion of Canton Club planned alongside development in region.
As a fully integrated developer, we’re proud to offer an expansive roster of in-house capabilities. Most importantly, you’ll find we have the personality of a small company. It’s the ideal combination: outstanding expertise and a unique ability to see things from a customer’s perspective.
Michele Tsucalas, Founder & Owner
"Merritt didn't just want to build us a space and lease us a space, they wanted our business to succeed. From the very beginning of our relationship, Merritt said to me, 'When you're ready to grow, we'll help you grow.'"
Joe Mezzanotte, Partner
"Merritt makes promises, they deliver on those promises, they deliver on time, and they deliver on budget."
Steve Martin, President
"Merritt employees truly love their jobs and consistently deliver solutions in a fast, creative and cost-effective manner."
True to Leroy Merritt’s vision, we focus equally on the efficient operation of our businesses and on our impact on the community—our commitment to doing what’s right, every day, for every customer.
Focusing on strategic planning and long-term goals, Scott oversees relations with financial institutions, government agencies, economic development organizations and industry groups. He joined the company in 1972. Scott is Chairman of the Board for the Maryland Economic Development Corporation and Maryland Free (formerly Maryland Business for Responsive Government), and sits on the Board and Executive Committee for the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the Young Life-Urban Baltimore Board of Directors, M&T Bank Greater Baltimore/Washington Director’s Advisory Council, the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission, Caves Valley Golf Club Foundation, and the Board of Trustees for Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. In addition, he has served on the Maryland Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission) since its inception in September 2016. He is also a member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and an MBA from Loyola University in Maryland.
Robb oversees daily operations and management of the company, having learned the development business from the ground up. He is former president of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) and is currently a member of the Legislative Committee. He also sits on the President’s Advisory Council for the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission. At the national level, he also serves on the NAIOP Industrial Development III National Forum and sits as a governor on the NAIOP Research Foundation. In addition, Robb is a board member for the Maryland Business Leadership PAC and Living Classrooms Foundation. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Robb received an MBA from Loyola University.
Company Honored During 2022 Best of NAIOP Northern Virginia Awards
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Leroy Merritt’s greatest legacy was his spirit of generosity, and we are honored to carry on this tradition.
Our charitable giving focuses on providing for the immediate needs–food, clothing and shelter–of disadvantaged women and children in Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia.
To apply for a grant, 501(c)3 organizations should submit a request detailing the program, budget and specific measurements or success stories. Please also provide your most recent IRS form 990.
We are always grateful to learn about organizations serving the immediate needs of disadvantaged women and children in the area. Unfortunately, we receive more than 800 grant requests each year and are simply unable to fulfill them all. Therefore, we ask that you ensure that your request falls within our mission statement prior to submitting.
We accept requests on a rolling basis throughout the year, and they are reviewed on a quarterly basis. Please email your completed request to [email protected]. Thank you for your service to our community.