California solar company expands with lease in UMd.’s Discovery District

Baltimore Business Journal  |  Melody Simmons

California-based Freedom Forever has signed a lease deal to open a new solar energy office in the Discovery District near the University of Maryland College Park.

The residential solar company will move into about 17,500-square-feet of space at 5650 Rivertech Court by April 1. The development is owned by Woodlawn-based St. John Properties.

The Prince George’s County lease is Freedom Forever’s first in the region and will allow the company to sell and install its solar panels locally. It also puts the company in the center of the emerging Discovery District, an innovation hub in College Park that is growing with new development and, eventually, access to the Purple Line of the Metro this year.

Danny Rubin, vice president of field operations at the company, said the group had scoured the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro areas for new office space over the past year.

“We believe the Discovery District offers us the most compelling combination of location, building design and access to employee talent that will fuel our growth,” Rubin said, in a statement. “Maryland is an extremely solar-friendly state full of customers who are eager to save on their utility bills. The building provides us with the open space we need to store and stage materials, as well as access to highways and the Metro D.C. area.”

The group will start with 10 employees next month, and aims to hire about 65 more in the coming months as it expands into more territories in the mid-Atlantic.

Fast-growing Freedom Forever opened offices in the Florida and Georgia markets last year after moving into North Carolina and South Carolina in 2019. A nearly 20,000-square-foot lease was signed in a Dallas suburb in 2020 to open up its residential solar sales in Texas. The company is based in Temecula, California, north of San Diego, and has offices in 20 states.

The new Maryland office will be a home base for the workers who provide site surveys, designs and installations of the rooftop solar grids. The new offices will also serve as warehouse and storage space for materials.

St. John Properties has developed about 160,000 square feet of office space within the 150-acre Discovery District at the University of Maryland.

The $300 million district is located about one mile from the flagship campus near Interstate 95 and will hold 550,000 square feet of Class A office space, up to 250 apartment units and research and retail space when built out. Earlier this month, the Terrapin Development Company unveiled plans for a five-acre mixed-use community in the district that it will build with Brandywine Realty Trust.

“Freedom Forever represents an example of our ability to attract high-profile companies with strong growth potential to the Discovery District,” said Sean Doordan, a St. John Properties senior vice president for leasing. “They have a proven model that has been successful throughout the country.”

Other tenants in the Discovery District include the Earth Science Interdisciplinary Center, offices for the Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service.

Jared Ross of CBRE represented Freedom Forever in this deal.