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Real Estate Weekly – 2/3/12: Pepco agrees to purchase WaterShed house

Pepco agrees to purchase WaterShed house

Pepco, the Arlington, Va.-based energy company, agreed to buy WaterShed, the prize-winning solar-powered house that earned the University of Maryland top honors in an international solar energy competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Pepco plans to reassemble the now-disassembled house, which was designed and built by UM students, faculty and professional partners, at one of its sites in Montgomery County, and use it as an educational facility. The announcement of the Pepco purchase did not include the sale price, but the Washington Post, in a real estate blog, pegged it at $200,000. The house runs entirely on solar power but is designed to recycle and reuse sink and shower water and distribute it to manmade wetlands that surround the structure. The house cost about $850,000 to design and construct, according to the Post.

Two office buildings in Hanover sold

Tecore Networks purchased 7030 Hi Tech Drive, a 48,000-square-foot office building in Hanover, the Baltimore office of Cushman & Wakefield announced. Tecore is moving its headquarters from a Columbia location, and expects to occupy the new site this summer. The deal, which closed in January, followed the September sale of 7010 Hi Tech Drive, a 40,000-square-foot building, to Alliance Technology Group LLC. C&W Senior Director Hayes Merkert represented the buyers in both transactions. CBRE’s Bo Cashman and Jonathan Beard represented the seller of both buildings, Redus New Hampshire LLC.

Nominations sought for environmental awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 Tawes Award for a Clean Environment and for the James B. Coulter Government Employee Award. The Tawes award recognizes individuals, civic, community, and nonprofit groups that have demonstrated outstanding efforts to enhance Maryland’s environment over a period of time or with a single project. There are separate categories for youth and adults. The award, being given for the 35th year, is named for J. Millard Tawes, governor of Maryland from 1959 to 1967 and the first secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Coulter award, named in honor of Maryland’s second Secretary of Natural Resources, was established in 2005, and acknowledges outstanding environmental contributions by a government employee. Nomination forms for both awards may be obtained online at MDE’s website, www.mde.state.md.us. The deadline for nominations is April 13.

SECU offers home buyer assistance programs

To spur home sales and help home buyers with down payments and closing costs, SECU — Maryland’s largest financial cooperative — is participating in two programs offered by the Federal Home Loan Bank. FHLB’s First-Time Homebuyer Program provides low and moderate income home buyers with up to $7,500 in matching funds for down payment and closing cost assistance. Borrowers must come up with at least $1,000, which FHLB will match for a maximum grant of $7,500. The second program, FHLB’s Community Stability Program, also provides up to $7,500 in matching funds for the same SECU members to purchase and/or rehabilitate an existing home. The difference is that the member does not have to be a first-time home buyer, and the home must be located in a Zip code that has been targeted for stabilization funds by the state or local government. For more information, visit www.secumd.org.

Royal Farms wins USGBC award

Royal Farms, a Baltimore-based convenience store chain, said it was among the winners of the U.S. Green Building Council, Maryland Chapter’s WinterGreen awards, which were presented last month. The annual awards recognize higher achievement in green building and environmental leadership in Maryland. Royal Farms has three LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) stores and 20 stores in the process of achieving LEED certification, including a four-story office and retail building on Charles Street that the company is building, and which is expected to open this year.

Catoctin Park visitor center remains closed

(AP) Officials at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont say upgrades to the visitor center are taking longer than expected, as crews replace the reception desk and flooring. The center closed on Jan. 23 and is scheduled to reopen Saturday. Meanwhile, park visitors must make do with a portable toilet instead of indoor restrooms. The agency said maps of the popular hiking trails are available from a dispenser on the building’s front porch.

CHAP slates hearing on landmark designation for Dunbar High School

The Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) has scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 14 to consider landmark list designation of the Dunbar High School building at 540 Caroline St. At the hearing, the commission will consider the historical and architectural significance of the structure. Baltimore City Landmark designation becomes effective upon the approval of CHAP, the Planning Commission and the Baltimore City Council. Once a property is designated as a city landmark, any exterior change made to the property must first obtain approval by CHAP. Landmark designation may also qualify a property for state and local historic rehabilitation tax credits.

Inmarsat subsidiary opens APG office

Inmarsat Government – US, of Herndon, Va., formerly called Segovia and Stratos Government Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Inmarsat plc, announced the opening of a new office location at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The new office, located at 6210 Guardian Gateway, Suite 155, has a staff of cleared sales personnel on site to better serve U.S. military organizations in Maryland that require readily available consultation for end-to-end satellite and terrestrial services. Inmarsat Government – US provides secure, global telecommunications to the U.S. government.

Big deal for Chesapeake Lodging Trust

Chesapeake Lodging Trust, of Annapolis, said it agreed to buy the 185-room Hyatt Place New York Midtown South for $76.5 million. The 25-story hotel is being built on 36th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, according to the company. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter after construction is completed, the hotel real estate investment trust said. This will be Chesapeake’s second hotel acquisition in midtown Manhattan. The company bought the Holiday Inn New York City Midtown-31st Street in December. Chesapeake owns 12 hotels with a total of 3,516 rooms in six states and Washington, D.C.

Choice bringing Cambria Suites to Florida Choice Hotels International Inc., of Silver Spring, a hotel franchise chain, announced a new Cambria Suites hotel is planned for Miami, Fla. The 122-unit hotel, located near the Miami airport, will be developed by Miami-based Sunflower Hospitality LLC. Construction is scheduled to begin this year, with the opening expected in the summer of 2013. Choice said the deal signifies the brand’s expansion into major urban markets. There are 18 Cambria Suites properties open across the country, with additional properties in development. Additionally, Choice Hotels said it acquired land parcels in five other major markets for potential future development.

Signs of the times

(AP) Frederick County is taking issue with the State Highway Administration ban on road signs with a slogan that the county is “open for business.” The Frederick News-Post reported Tuesday that the agency denied the county’s request to include the slogan on welcome signs along Interstates 70 and 270, and U.S. Highways 15 and 340, on grounds that the slogans could distract drivers and might have to be changed often as counties adopt new slogans. SHA spokeswoman Valerie Edgar acknowledged that food, gas and lodging companies can add their logos to state highway signs for a fee. But she said that’s different because those signs direct drivers to destinations.

Area water supply called ample

There will be no water shortage in the Baltimore metropolitan area this spring and summer, the Baltimore Department of Public Works said Wednesday. DPW Director Alfred H. Foxx said the city’s three reservoirs, which together supply water for 1.8 million people in Baltimore and nearby counties, are 100 percent full with a total of 75.85 billion gallons. The reservoirs are Loch Raven, containing 21.2 billion gallons; Prettyboy, with 17.85 billion gallons; and Liberty, holding 36.8 billion gallons. Typically at this time of year, reservoir storage totals have averaged 87 percent full, according to Foxx.

New park slated for downtown Hagerstown

(AP) The Hagerstown City Council is moving forward with plans to construct a new downtown park. The council unanimously approved a demolition contract Tuesday to raze two vacant buildings at North Locust Street and East Avenue to make room for the new mini-park, the Herald Mail newspaper reported. Allegany Wrecking & Salvage of Hagerstown will do the demolition work. The city bought the properties, which have five residential units, in December with the intent of knocking them down, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said. A possible name for the park will be discussed with local residents and historians, Tissue said.

COPT sells 5 White Marsh buildings

Corporate Office Properties Trust, of Columbia, announced it sold five office buildings in the White Marsh area for $19.2 million. The buildings, containing approximately 163,000 square feet of space, were 83.2 percent leased as of Dec. 31. The properties are located at 7930 Honeygo Blvd.; 8133 Perry Hall Blvd.; 7923 Honeygo Blvd.; 8114 Sandpiper Circle; and 8615 Ridgely’s Choice Drive. The buyer or buyers were not identified. COPT is restructuring its portfolio, selling $95.9 million worth of buildings and adjacent land since April 2011, and realizing $88.5 million in net proceeds. The office real estate investment trust invests in buildings near U.S. government and military installations and data centers.

Penney coming to Abingdon retail center

A jcpenney department store will be the second anchor store at the Boulevard at Box Hill shopping center in Abingdon, MacKenzie Retail LLC, the leasing agent, announced. The national retailer will join the existing anchor, a Wegmans supermarket, upon completion of construction of an 85,775-square-foot store in early fall 2012. In addition to Wegmans, the shopping center’s tenants are Joe’s Crab Shack, Panera Bread and PNC Bank. MacKenzie Retail Senior Vice President/Principal Thomas L. Fidler Jr. represented Boulevard at Box Hill owner/developer Ward Development Group. Penney was represented by KLNB Retail.

Hospital signs 33K s.f. office lease

Saint Agnes Hospital has signed a lease for 33,000 square feet of space within the office component of Lansdowne Station, a mixed-use office-and-retail project in Baltimore County. Upon completion of tenant build-out this spring, approximately 150 hospital employees are expected to move to the development at 3585 Washington Blvd. The employees, chiefly back office and administrative staffers, are relocating from a building on Koppers Street, approximately 1.3 miles from the new site. Lansdowne Station is owned by Venture B.G. LLC and managed by David S. Brown Enterprises LTD. Lynn Abeshouse and Kevin Keane of Abeshouse Partners represented the landlord, and Bob Manekin of Colliers International represented Saint Agnes Hospital in the transaction.

Marshall increases management portfolio

Marshall Hotels & Resorts Inc., a Salisbury-based hotel management and services company, said it was awarded six new contracts in December. The hotels are the 125-room Comfort Inn & Suites College Park; three Virginia properties, the 143-room Comfort Inn & Suites Alexandria, 104-room Comfort Inn Dulles and 111-room Comfort Inn Falls Church; 148-room Clarion Inn Waco in Texas; and the 77-room Hampton Inn & Suites Marksville in Louisiana. The new awards bring to 19 the number of management contracts inked by Marshall in 2011, and to 62 the number of properties in its portfolio.

Posko named to head Habitat office

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake named Mike Posko, a former executive with local development companies, as its new CEO. Board Chair Mike Brennan said Posko was named after a national search. Posko spent 17 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of Baltimore, and a decade working in executive positions at Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse and Cross Street Partners. He begins as CEO with the Baltimore-based affordable housing nonprofit organization in mid-February. Posko succeeds Mike Mitchell, who stepped down late last year after nearly nine years heading the local Habitat chapter.

HCM opens office in Alexandria

Hord Coplan Macht, a Baltimore-based architecture, landscape architecture, planning and interior design firm, announced it opened a branch office in Alexandria, Va. The new office “provides the potential to expand geographically and to increase our market share with our core target clients,” said, Senior Principal Lee Coplan.

Clifton Mansion announcement

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., has scheduled an announcement on Monday at Baltimore’s historic Clifton Mansion to unveil legislation that would make it easier to restore historic properties. Clifton Mansion is the headquarters for the AmeriCorps program Civic Works, and will be undergoing a $7 million renovation that will employ approximately 150 workers. Cardin’s bill — Creating American Prosperity through Preservation (“CAPP”) Act — would expand the Historic Tax Credit program to include smaller restoration projects and encourage the greater use of energy-efficient improvements in historic preservation projects. According to a release from the senator’s office, since its creation in 1976, the Historic Tax Credit program has leveraged more than $90 billion of private-sector investment ($5 of private investment for every $1 of HTC) to preserve and rehabilitate more than 37,000 historic properties, including the creation of over 185,000 housing units, of which over 75,000 are low and moderate-income units. Nationwide, since 1978 the program has created more than 2 million jobs. In Maryland, the HTC program has created more than 18,700 jobs from 2001 to 2011.

20-building portfolio in Columbia sold

Cassidy Turley announced the sale of the Prologis (formerly AMB Property Corp.) office/flex portfolio in Columbia. The 588,009-square-foot portfolio consists of 20 buildings in three business parks (Columbia Gateway Business Park, Columbia Business Center and Oakland Ridge). Jonathan Carpenter and James Wellschlager of Cassidy Turley’s Capital Markets Group represented the seller, Prologis. A New England-based institutional investor purchased the 93 percent leased portfolio. Neither the identity of the buyer nor the purchase price was disclosed.

LEASES

Cassidy Turley of Baltimore reported the following recently signed leases:

* Newport Scientific Inc. leased 16,000 square feet of space at 8246 Sandy Court in Jessup. Newport Scientific is a manufacturer of high pressure products and equipment used by research labs and manufacturing plants throughout the world. Jarred Testa, Michael Walsh and Tilghman Herring of Cassidy Turley’s Core Industrial Leasing Team represented Newport Scientific, while Ed Harris represented the landlord, Invesco.

* Tasty Baking Co. signed a 13,000-square-foot lease at 21 Fontana Lane in Rosedale. Tasty — the maker of the Tastykake snack food — is a wholly owned subsidiary of Flower Foods Inc. of Thomasville, Ga. Cassidy Turley’s Jarred Testa, Michael Walsh and Tilghman Herring represented the landlord, RREEF. Tasty was represented by Brian Watts of Transwestern.

Baltimore Orthodontic Group signed a lease for 5,440 square feet of space at 5961 Exchange Drive at Liberty Exchange, a 215,000-square-foot, mixed-use business community developed and owned by St. John Properties, located near the intersection of MD Routes 32 and 26 (Liberty Road) in Carroll County. This is the fourth location in the Greater Baltimore region for the dental group, and the first in Carroll County.

Merritt Properties LLC reported the following recently signed leases:

* B&B Supplies Inc. leased 2,000 square feet of warehouse space at 3349 Hollins Ferry Road in Halethorpe. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw represented both parties in negotiations.

* Beyond the Label, a retail framed art work provider and manufacturer, leased 33,748 square feet of warehouse and office space at 7600 Energy Parkway, Suites 107-114, in Curtis Bay, Anne Arundel County. Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw represented Merritt Properties. Tom Gentner of Transwestern represented the tenant.

* Tech Edge USA Inc., an IT solutions company, leased 2,825 square feet of office space at 5523 Research Park, Suite 140, in Catonsville. Merritt was represented by its in-house team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw. Charlie Fenwick of Cassidy Turley represented Tech Edge USA.

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