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Real Estate Weekly – 3/22/13

EA signs MOU with University of Guam

EA Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc., a Hunt Valley-based environmental and natural resources engineering firm, said it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Guam to collaborate on certain historic and natural resources projects in Guam and the Marianas Islands. The Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, creates a mechanism for collaboration on regional historic preservation and natural resource investigations. It also provides a platform for disseminating information to better serve the Asia-Pacific Region. The company did not reveal specific details of the MOU.

BGE makes free trees available to consumers

Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. announced that it has launched the BGE Energy-Saving Trees Program, through the Arbor Day Foundation and Davey Institute, in an effort to help customers reduce energy consumption and meet energy efficiency goals, while reducing carbon footprints and improving the environment. BGE has committed $300,000 to the program, providing 9,000 free trees to customers through an online tool, while supplies last. Customers can reserve their free trees by visiting www.arborday.org/BGE. However, they must agree to plant the trees in an energy-saving location, away from overhead power lines and underground utilities. Trees offered through the program are: Serviceberry, American Hornbeam, Flowering Dogwood, American Hophornbeam, Willow Oak, Basswood and Eastern Redbud, the last species native to Maryland. To reserve a tree, go to www.arborday.org/BGE.

St. John Properties takes construction to next level

Woodlawn-based St. John Properties Inc. has begun construction activities on more than 320,000 square feet of commercial office space, spanning an area from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County to Ashburn Technology Park, located in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County. Five new buildings are being built on a speculative basis with no pre-leasing commitments, configured as a mix of single-story R&D/flex, single-story office, and multi-story commercial office product. “Our company is taking full advantage of the retrenched posture of many commercial office developers who have adopted a wait-and-see approach to new construction,” said Jerry Wit, St. John Properties’ senior vice president of marketing. “We intend to remain several steps ahead of the leasing momentum that we believe will continue throughout the region, in an effort to immediately respond to our customers’ space requirements.”

Ayers Saint Gross involved in D.C. redevelopment plan

Baltimore-based architectural and planning firm Ayers Saint Gross is a member of the team that has developed and written the Sustainable DC Plan, an ambitious strategy aimed at guiding the transformation of Washington into what is envisioned as “the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the United States within one generation.” Arup, a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm, led and developed the technical content of the visionary plan commissioned by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. “Fulfilling the mayor’s challenge to create a Sustainability Plan worthy of the world’s most important city that is achievable within one generation has been possible because of the sophistication of the client team and the expert consultants we have had the privilege of working alongside,” said Bill Skelsey, principal of Ayers Saint Gross’ Washington office.

Town and company collaborate to provide better water service

Chesapeake City, a town in Cecil County, is getting a new source of high quality water service, thanks to completion of a water main interconnection by Artesian Water Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Newark,Del.-based Artesian Resources Corp. Artesian and town personnel placed in service the interconnection and 1.57 miles of new water main to provide water to the town from Artesian’s Chesapeake City Road plant, which is located in Delaware. Artesian installed 2,286 feet of 12-inch ductile iron main in Delaware while the town installed approximately 6,000 feet of 12-inch ductile iron main in Maryland. The project’s completion enables the town to place its existing two water plants off line, and it no longer has to bear the high operational cost of their iron removal systems, saving more than $100,000 a year, according to town officials.

Fund at Columbia Foundation honors late community activist

A permanent endowment fund has been established at The Columbia Foundation, Howard County’s community foundation, to honor Emily Lincoln, a Howard County real estate agent and community activist who died in February 2012. Lincoln’s son, John Lincoln, established the fund with donations in her memory from her friends and family. Income from the designated fund will equally support the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts and Family and Children’s Services of Central Maryland, two organizations that Emily Lincoln served. Lincoln spent more than four decades in Columbia, where she championed social justice and served community agencies and organizations. She worked with The Columbia Foundation and The Columbia Bank to bring more affordable housing to Howard County. In addition, she was involved with Bring Back the Vision, an organization that supported plans to redevelop downtown Columbia.

Marriott’s Autograph Collection expands

Autograph Collection, Bethesda-based Marriott International Inc.’s portfolio of upscale and luxury hotels, has added three hotels, including its first hotels in California. The new additions are the Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa in Lake Arrowhead, Calif.; a historic lodge that has been renovated at a cost of $26 million; the Hotel Adagio in San Francisco, a hotel originally built in 1929 in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square District; and the Hotel Blackhawk, of Davenport, Iowa, an iconic, 103-year-old hotel that recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation. Although independently owned, Autograph Collection hotels have access to Marriott’s worldwide reservations system and technology, sales and marketing platforms.

New tourism idea: QR-coded bricks

(AP) Sidewalk bricks with QR codes on them are being proposed for a St. Michaels walking tour. QR codes are square black-and-white codes that can be scanned by smartphone software and take visitors to a web page that will provide information about the location. St. Michaels Museum President Jeff Fones presented the idea to town commissioners last week. Fones provided a list of at least 15 sites where the bricks could be laid, including Christ Episcopal Church, the James Bensen House and the William J. Fairbank House. The sites are all on Talbot Street, and Fones said the list could be expanded.

New VA outpatient clinic at Fort Meade

A new Veterans Administration outpatient clinic is to be formally dedicated on Monday at Fort George G. Meade. The 13,300-square-foot facility, built at a cost of $4.7 million, will serve more than 80,000 veterans living in Anne Arundel and Howard counties. The clinic features 21 exam rooms, an audiology booth, patient waiting areas and state-of-the-art medical technology. Services include general outpatient medical care, preventive health and education services, various medical screenings, TeleHealth services, and referrals to specialized programs and inpatient services available throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System. This is the seventh VA outpatient clinic in Maryland; others are located Baltimore city and county; Pocomoke City; Cambridge; Glen Burnie; and Fort Howard.

Review finds defects at transit center

A report released by Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett says independent consultants found “serious problems” with the problem-plagued Silver Spring Transit Center. According to Leggett, Washington-based KCE Structural Engineers P.C., found “significant and serious design and construction defects, including excessive cracking, missing post-tensioning cables, inadequate reinforcing steel, and concrete of insufficient strength and thickness.” Leggett said the problems can be fixed, but that it will take time. Foulger-Pratt Cos., the Rockville-based principal contractor on the project, has said the building is structurally sound. The bus-and-train hub is already more than two years behind schedule and $80 million over budget.

Health care properties get financing

Walker & Dunlop Inc., of Bethesda, a real estate lender focused on multifamily loans, announced that it provided more than $415.1 million in financing for health care properties nationwide in 2012. As one of the largest lenders in the country under FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs, the company provides construction, bridge, equity and mezzanine financing for seniors’, residential care and hospital projects nationwide, according to officials. In September 2012, W&D acquired a rival firm, Washington-based CWCapital, for $234 million in cash and stock. W&D officials said the acquisition expanded its capabilities to provide financing under Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD programs.

WRIT sells Rockville office building

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, of Rockville, which invests in income-producing commercial and multifamily properties in the Greater Washington metropolitan area, said it completed the sale of The Atrium, an 80,000-square-foot office building in Rockville. WRIT received $15.75 million from the sale to an unidentified buyer, which intends to relocate its headquarters to the property, according to the sale announcement. The building was built in 1980 and acquired by WRIT in 2002. WRIT said it achieved a net book gain of $3.6 million and an unleveraged internal rate of return of 11 percent over the 10-year period that it owned the property.

Cambridge school unveils solar array

Dorchester County Public Schools held a ceremony Thursday to unveil an array of solar panels at a middle school in Cambridge. The ground-mounted installation, consisting of 3,276 solar panels at Mace’s Lane Middle School, is expected to produce 1,108 megawatt hours of solar energy annually to help power the school, according to officials. The solar array is expected to reduce both the school’s carbon footprint and its utility costs. The system was designed and installed by Florida-based Kenyon Energy and California-based REC Solar Inc., and financed by Washington Gas Energy Systems, which will own and operate the array under a 20-year power purchasing agreement.

PERSONNEL 

Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis has named Luke Klock as director of capital projects. Klock was previously a project manager with Gilbane Building Co., and worked closely with AAMC on management and oversight of the hospital’s expansion, the new AAMC/Johns Hopkins medical building in Odenton, the Hackerman-Patz House and the new Earl Simulation to Advance Innovation and Learning (SAIL) Center. In his new job, he is responsible for management of small to large construction projects at AAMC. Klock has a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

LEASES 

U.S. Lumber has leased 114,000 square feet of bulk warehouse space at 504 Advantage Way in Aberdeen, the Baltimore office of Cassidy Turley, a national commercial real estate services provider, announced. The 10-year lease has an option for U.S. Lumber to lease additional space within the 357,900-square-foot industrial building to accommodate projected growth during the lease term. U.S. Lumber is presently located in North East, in Cecil County, and needed additional space. “The availability of the generous outside yard area in front of the building was a key component in U.S. Lumber’s decision to lease this building,” said Craig Lewis, Cassidy Turley vice president and principal. Lewis and Rick Latini of Cassidy Turley represented the landlord, 504 Advantage Way LLC.

Merritt Properties LLC, of Woodlawn, reported the following recently signed leases.

* North Star Group LLC, a full-service project management company, leased 6,064 square feet of office space at 250 S. President St. in downtown Baltimore. KLNB’s Dave Fritz represented North Star. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the landlord.

* Conproco Corp., a masonry repair company, leased 2,500 square feet of warehouse space and 200 square feet of office space at 3 Nashua Court in Essex. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented both parties in the deal.

* Renewable Energy Corp., a supplier of energy-efficient goods for residential and commercial buildings, leased 1,900 square feet of warehouse space and 2,000 square feet of office space at 7 W. Aylesbury Road in Timonium. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented both parties in the lease discussions.

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