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Real Estate Weekly – 3/9/12: ezStorage expands Randallstown facility

ezStorage expands Randallstown facility

Columbia-based ezStorage Corp. announced the 40-unit expansion of its 731-unit, drive-through, self-storage facility at 8514 Liberty Road in Randallstown. All 40 units will be climate controlled and offer security features and amenities that include computer-controlled gate and building access, unit-specific pass codes, 24-hour camera surveillance and well-lit areas both inside and outside the facility. The company has 45 storage locations in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.

Ayers Saint Gross wins WoodWorks award

The Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center in Charlottesville, Va.

A Maryland firm was among nine award winners nationally honored with a WoodWorks Wood Design Award, presented by WoodWorks, a cooperative venture of major wood associations and organizations throughout North America. Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, an architectural, planning and landscape architecture firm, won in the Commercial Wood Design category for the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center in Charlottesville, Va. The award was for the use of wood as the primary building material to complement the brick architecture of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s house, and reflect the surrounding natural scenery, while keeping costs down and taking advantage of renewable material. Another project, the King Hall Galley Renovation at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, won the Interior Beauty of Wood Design award. The project team was headed by Dallas-based architectural firm HKS Inc.

Muffin Bakery Café to open in Annapolis

BAB Inc., a Deerfield, Ill.-based company that franchises and licenses My Favorite Muffin shops, among others, said a My Favorite Muffin Your All Day Bakery Café will open in Annapolis. The announcement did not specify an opening date for the store, which is owned by franchisee M4 Muffins Inc., headed by retired U.S. Navy Commander Mark P. Maglin and his wife, Melissa. The “intended site for which lease negotiations are now underway is in the Main Street Annapolis shopping district …,” the announcement said. Other details about the restaurant’s menu or hours were not disclosed in the announcement.

NAI KLNB brokers sale of Chestertown warehouse

NAI KLNB brokered the sale of a 44,800-square-foot warehouse/distribution building at 225 Talbot Road in Chestertown for $1.47 million. NAI KNLB principal Jim Caronna represented both the buyer, KRM Development, and the seller, 225 Talbot Road LLC in the transaction. Formerly occupied by the Wisco Envelope Co., the building will be used by the specialty products division of Dixon Valve and Coupling Co. to manufacture industrial hose couplings and accessories. Approximately 25 employees are expected to work at the site beginning May 1. Dixon Valve and Coupling operates four other facilities in the Chestertown area, comprising approximately 325,000 square feet of space, of which about 100,000 square feet is used for warehousing.

LaSalle acquires Hotel Palomar in D.C.

LaSalle Hotel Properties of Bethesda, a hotel real estate investment trust, said it has acquired the 335-room Hotel Palomar in Washington for $143.8 million in an off-market transaction. The REIT financed the purchase through the sale of more than 1.7 million common shares in January and February that resulted in proceeds of $46.6 million, and borrowings from the company’s senior unsecured credit facility. The full-service hotel is located at 2121 P Street NW, near Dupont Circle. The property will continue to be managed by the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group LLC of San Francisco. The seller was a Kimpton-sponsored discretionary equity fund.

Italian-themed restaurant opens downtown

Brio Bravo Restaurant Group, a Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant chain, opened a Northern Italian-themed restaurant, BRIO Tuscan Grille, in downtown Baltimore on Friday. The upscale casual-dining location at 100 N. Calvert St., close to the Inner Harbor, is the company’s third restaurant in Maryland, and the first in the Baltimore market. The oldest BRIO dining spot in the state opened at the Annapolis Towne Centre in 2009. On Wednesday, the company opened its second location in Maryland at the North Bethesda Market in Rockville, across from the White Flint Mall. There are about 35 BRIO Tuscan Grille restaurants nationwide, according to Hoovers.

Northwest Baltimore industrial building sold

KLNB LLC announced it had handled the sale of the Stewart’s Warehouse Distribution Center, a 165,000-square-foot industrial building in Northwest Baltimore. The building, located at 4241 Brookhill Road, adjacent to the Reisterstown Road Shopping Center, sold for $4.1 million, or $25 per square foot. The property is completely leased to Gardiners Furniture. The furniture retailer recently renewed and extended its lease on the 51-year-old building through August 2019. Gil Neuman and Michael Mull of NAI KLNB represented the seller, Continental Realty Corp., and the company also procured the buyer, Goodier Baker LLC.

Patricia Rouse dead at 85

Patricia “Patty” Rouse, co-founder of The Enterprise Foundation, now Enterprise Community Partners Inc., of Columbia, has died at age 85, the company announced Tuesday. She was the widow of the late James W. “Jim” Rouse, the legendary developer who brought Columbia into being. Patricia Rouse served as vice president and secretary and was a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, a provider of development capital for affordable housing projects. She also served as secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of its for-profit subsidiary, Enterprise Community Investment Inc.

Blue Plains plant to be upgraded

Pepco Energy Services Inc., of Alexandria, Va., a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings Inc., and DC Water have signed an agreement for PES to design, build and operate a biogas-fueled combined heat and power plant at DC Water’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The cost of the plant will be $81 million; operations and maintenance over the 15-year contract will cost $89 million, for a total project cost of $170 million. The world’s largest advanced wastewater treatment facility, Blue Plains covers approximately 153 acres. It serves approximately 725 square miles of D.C., Maryland and Virginia and has a capacity of 370 million gallons per day.

3 housing projects OK’d in Baltimore Co.

(AP) Baltimore County has approved preliminary plans for two senior-housing developments and a townhouse project. The Baltimore Sun reported the County Council signed off Monday on “planned unit development” proposals for the projects. That designation allows developers to build more densely than allowed under regular zoning rules provided that their development offers some community benefit. Enterprise Homes and Shelter Development plan to build 72 affordable senior-housing units in Baltimore Highlands and 140 units for older residents in Catonsville, respectively. Also, Craftsmen Developers received the go-ahead to build 108 townhomes on the site of the former North Point Drive-In Theater.

Historic bridge closed for repair

(AP) A nearly 200-year-old bridge spanning the Casselman River in Western Maryland has been closed indefinitely for repairs. The Cumberland Times News reported that parts of a stone wall have crumbled and fallen from the Casselman River Bridge near Grantsville. The stone arch is the centerpiece of Casselman River Bridge State Park. Vehicles have long been prohibited from using the bridge, but picnickers and anglers had continued to cross it. The Maryland Park Service says it hopes to repair the bridge quickly but the agency has no timetable for it.

Funds OK’d for Blackwater land purchase

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved $505,000 in federal funding to acquire and conserve 112 acres of habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County. According to an announcement by U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, both D-Md., money for the acquisition come from proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamp. The privately held land, located on the east side of the 27,000-acre refuge, is being sold to the Fish and Wildlife Service by the owner, who was not identified.

Two Md. malls part of Mills transaction

(AP) Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the U.S., announced that it is buying joint venture partner Farallon Capital Management LLC’s interest in 26 U.S. shopping malls, including two in Maryland, owned by The Mills LP for $1.5 billion. The Maryland properties are Arundel Mills mall and Arundel Mills Marketplace, both located in Hanover. The former has 178 stores and 23 restaurants, according to MallSeeker.com. The number of stores at the Marketplace mall was not immediately available.

RLJ Lodging Trust’s performance improves

Revenue growth from higher room rates and increased occupancy enabled Bethesda-based RLJ Lodging Trust to report stronger fourth-quarter results. The hotel real estate investment trust — owner of 141 hotels in 20 states and Washington, D.C. — reported revenue of $189.3 million in last year’s quarter versus $137.9 million in the 2010 period. Adjusted fourth-quarter funds from operations were $37.3 million, compared to $24.8 million in the prior-year period. On a per-share basis, adjusted FFO in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 35 cents. Because the company went public in May 2011, there was no comparable per-share FFO for the 2010 quarter.

LEASES

First Potomac Realty Trust, a Bethesda-based real estate investment trust that owns office and industrial properties in the Greater Washington region, announced two recent lease signings at Redland Corporate Center II and III in Rockville, bringing the property to nearly 90 percent leased. Notable Solutions, a provider of paper and electronic content capture and business automation systems, signed a lease for 24,477 square feet at Rockland Corporate Center II to relocate its headquarters. The lease is for seven years. Also, Greenman-Pedersen Inc., a consulting engineering, planning, survey, mapping, and construction management and inspection firm, will separately move its headquarters to the property, signing a 7,897-square-foot lease for 10 years. Redland II totals 209,146 square feet and was 99 percent vacant when First Potomac acquired both buildings in November 2010. The 139,120-square-foot Redland III is 100 percent leased to BAE Systems. Perseus Realty LLC retained a minority ownership position.

Farmers Insurance has signed a lease with Red Brook Financial Center LLC for 22,700 square feet of space at 600 Red Brook Blvd., a Class A office building within the Red Brook Corporate Center in Owings Mills. The company intends to open an Owings Mills operations center in the six-story, 180,000-square-foot building to house insurance agents, administrative support staff and operations personnel. Approximately 150 existing and new jobs will relocate to the area during the next 12-18 months. The total occupancy of the six-building, 700,000-square-foot corporate campus exceeds 90 percent. Lynn Abeshouse and Kevin Keane of Abeshouse Partners represented the landlord, and Todd Wisinski of UGL Services Equis Operations Corp. represented the tenant. Red Brook Corporate Center is managed by David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd.

University of Maryland Faculty Physicians Inc. (FPI), formerly known as University Physicians Inc., has renewed and expanded its lease at 250 W. Pratt St., a 24-story landmark office building in downtown Baltimore. FPI, the faculty practices of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, occupies 61,993 square feet in the building after a 25,102-square-foot expansion. Tim Jackson, Courtenay Jenkins and Whitney Nye of Cushman & Wakefield represented the landlord, Behringer Harvard Funds. Matthew Haas and Kevin Haus of Colliers International represented FPI. Behringer Harvard REIT I Inc., an Addison, Texas-based real estate investment trust, bought the 368,194-square-foot building in December 2004 for approximately $52 million. As of March 2012, the building was 91 percent leased.

Merritt Properties LLC of Baltimore announced the following recently signed leases:

-Strategic Health Solutions LLC, a health care management company, leased 8,763 square feet of office space at 8830 Stanford Blvd, Suite 401-405, in the Columbia Corporate Park. The tenant was represented by Mackey Cronin of Jones Lang LaSalle.

-Steez Promotions LLC, a set design company, leased 2,100 square feet of space (1,500 s.f. office, 600 s.f. warehouse) at 825 Hammonds Ferry Road, Suite A (Rear), in the Hammonds North area of Linthicum.

-Clovis Group LLC, an IT staffing company, leased 3,613 square feet of office space at the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, 5523 Research Park Drive, Suite 115, in Catonsville. Bill Whitty of MacKenzie represented Clovis in the lease negotiations.

Merritt was represented by its in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw in the separate lease deals involving Strategic Health, Steez and Clovis.

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