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Real Estate Weekly – 11/25/11: Md. faults Frederick County growth plans

Frostburg State University erecting energy research center

(AP) A center for sustainable energy research is rising on the campus of Frostburg State University. The $2.4 million facility will house research on energy independence and sustainable sources of energy, university President Jonathan Gibralter said. The federal government has committed nearly $1.6 million to the project. The building will be completely off-grid, using electricity generated by solar and wind technology. Gibralter said the center also will serve as an example of energy-efficient construction for homeowners, farmers and businesses.

Marriott completes timeshare spinoff

Marriott International Inc. of Bethesda, the world’s largest lodging chain, said Monday it completed the spinoff of its timeshare business. The new company, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., began trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VAC. To complete the spinoff, equity shares of the new company are being distributed tax-free to Marriott International shareholders. In a statement, Marriott said 99 percent of its nearly 3,700 properties in more than 70 countries are operated under long-term management or franchise agreements, and it is now fully focused on its core lodging management and franchise business.

City Sports opens third store in Maryland

City Sports, a Boston-based specialty sports retailer, announced the opening of its third store in Maryland, at 8510 Fenton St. in downtown Silver Spring. The new store occupies a retail space vacated by Pier 1 Imports earlier this year. City Sports offers products geared to urban athletes, from apparel to bike, swimming, tennis and training gear. The store also features an interactive electronics section that offers shoppers the use of iPads to access information about products, and the ability to test headphones. City Sports’ other Maryland stores are located in Bethesda and Baltimore’s Harbor East area.

Books-A-Million opens two new stores

Books-A-Million, the third-largest book seller in the United States (behind Amazon & Barnes & Noble), has opened two new stores in as many weeks in central and southern Maryland. A BAM store opened at the TownMall of Westminster, located at 400 N. Center St. in Westminster. Another BAM store has opened at 3304-A Crain Highway in Waldorf. All BAM stores offer customers a broad selection of books, magazines, electronic devices and gifts. There’s also a “Kids-A-Million” section featuring children’s books, learning resources, toys and games, and a Joe Muggs Cafe offering coffee, tea, espresso and snacks.

Federal funds aid homeless shelters

Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday visited the Light House Shelter, a homeless shelter in Annapolis, and announced the award of more than $578,000 to 48 shelters across Maryland through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Emergency Solutions Grant program. Emergency Solutions Grants help local jurisdictions and nonprofit organizations such as Light House Shelter provide emergency and transitional housing services for homeless individuals and families in 21 Maryland jurisdictions. Last year, the agencies funded by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development helped 7,389 individuals. In addition to emergency shelter, the grants help fund support services to help individuals and families find long-term affordable housing.

Host Hotels’ secures new line of credit

Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. of Bethesda, a lodging real estate investment trust that owns upscale and luxury full-service hotel properties, closed a new, $1 billion revolving credit facility with a syndicate of banks. The new credit line represents a $400 million increase over its existing facility, which was scheduled to mature in September 2012, the company said. Host Hotels also has an option to seek additional lender commitments to increase the aggregate principal amount of the new facility by up to $500 million through an accordion feature, allowing for total commitments of up to $1.5 billion.

Maryland faults Frederick County growth plans

(AP) The Maryland Department of Planning said a proposed rewrite of Frederick County’s 20-year land-use plan would extend residential sprawl and require construction of more roads and schools, the Frederick News-Post reported Tuesday. The state’s criticism adds fuel to a dispute that has prompted a lawsuit from statewide environmental groups. The issue also has pitted the county’s elected commissioners against the appointed planning-and-zoning board. The all-Republican Board of County Commissioners wants to rewrite a comprehensive land-use plan adopted last year by the members’ more liberal predecessors. The proposed changes would increase residential development potential by nearly 18,000 homes, or about 50 percent.The board voted Nov. 17 against revising a comprehensive land-use plan that the county adopted last year. The county commissioners also face a lawsuit filed by two statewide environmental groups challenging their decision to reopen the planning process.

U.S. grant to fund Western Maryland growth plan

(AP) The Appalachian Regional Commission is working on a road map for economic growth in Western Maryland. U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski announced a $70,000 grant Monday from the U.S. Commerce Department to the Tri-County Council. The council is the arm of the Appalachian Regional Commission serving Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. The senators said the council will work with the private sector to create a strategy for investment and job creation in the region.

HUD grants will fund elderly housing in Md.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded more than $23.8 million to three nonprofit organizations in Maryland under a program to build affordable housing for low-income senior citizens. Associated Catholic Charities is to receive nearly $11.6 million — the largest such grant that the nonprofit has ever received from HUD — to construct 87 units of housing for low-income elderly in Fullerton. A grant of nearly $4.2 million is going to Homes for America to buy an under-used, four-story wing of an existing building in Emmitsburg, where 44 apartments for elderly will be built. The building is owned by the Daughters of Charity, which operates nursing care and assisting living facilities there, which future residents will be able to use. Also, HUD is giving $8.1 million to The Associated, a Jewish nonprofit, to build Renaissance Gardens, consisting of 60 one-bedroom units of elderly housing in the Park Heights neighborhood of Baltimore. The Section 202 grants were announced by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.

LEASES

Volkswagen is expanding and extending its lease with St. John Properties Inc. at Ashburn Technology Park, a 46-acre business community near Washington Dulles International Airport. Volkswagen will take an additional 9,000 square feet at 21660 Red Rum Drive, where it leases 6,000 square feet. The automobile company uses its space as a facility for training and curriculum development to support the nearby headquarters of Volkswagen North America. The business park contains six buildings with more than 336,000 square feet of research and development flex and office space. Lauren Scarpace and Tony Russo of CB Richard Ellis represented Volkswagen, and Matt Holbrook and Danny Severn of St. John Properties represented the landlord in this transaction.

The U.S. General Services Administration recently signed a lease for an additional 76,800 square feet of industrial space at 4 Center Drive in North East, Cushman & Wakefield announced. The space will be used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bringing together four offices currently located in Baltimore and Philadelphia. The additional space will be used by the department to warehouse medical supplies. With the recent lease, HHS will occupy 153,600 square feet. The building, which contains 345,600 square feet of space, is also occupied by Herr’s Foods, which leases 153,600 square feet. Approximately 38,400 square feet is still available, C&W said. Ned Brady and Matthew Laraway, senior directors with Cushman & Wakefield, represented the landlord, North East Commerce Center LLC. The GSA was self-represented.

Merritt Properties announced the following recently signed lease transactions:

* Eliz Beauty Salon, a women’s hair salon, leased 1,160 square feet of retail space at Columbia Market Place, Suite 116, 9400 Snowden River Parkway in Columbia.

* Deliverance Temple Christian Fellowship leased 3,300 square feet of space for church use at 3737 Old Georgetown Road in Arbutus.

* Bay Area Vending LLC, leased 2,000 square feet of space (1,500 square feet warehouse, 500 square feet office) for vending machine storage at 715 E. Ordnance Road, Suite 109, in Curtis Bay.

In all three transactions, Merritt’s in-house team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw represented both landlord and tenants.

PERSONNEL

Mid-Atlantic Properties Inc., a Towson-based development and property management firm, announced the hiring of Stephen Endres as chief financial officer. Endres, a CPA, has nearly 25 years of experience in accounting and real estate finance, most recently as CFO for Nottingham Properties, where he supervised financing for the entire company. He also formerly was CFO for James F. Knott Realtym where he managed the accounting, finance and tax planning departments.

Alan R. Fish

Alan R. Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been appointed to a new senior-level position overseeing real estate, facilities, transportation and other services at The Johns Hopkins University. He will join the university on Jan. 3 as vice president for real estate and campus services. Fish has been at Wisconsin-Madison since 1989 and has served as associate vice chancellor for nearly nine years. He is in charge of planning, capital budgeting, construction and maintenance for a 900-acre campus with more than 330 buildings. He is responsible for nearly 1,200 employees and an operating budget of nearly $80 million. He oversaw the process that built a new campus master plan; during his tenure, Wisconsin has completed, is building or has started design for 57 projects worth more than $2.3 billion. Prior to serving as associate vice chancellor, Fish was associate athletic director and administrative officer for intercollegiate athletics at Wisconsin-Madison, responsible at various times over 13 years for capital projects, budget, personnel, facilities and competition management, and operations of the football and rowing programs.

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