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Real Estate Weekly – 5/3/13

Former Giant warehouse in Jessup sold to joint venture

A former Giant Food distribution center, said to be the largest unoccupied warehouse in Maryland, has been sold to new owners. The 775,000-square-foot property, 7600 Assateague Drive in the Maryland Wholesale Food Center in Jessup, close to Interstate 95, was sold by Cushman & Wakefield to a joint venture consisting of New York Life representing institutional investors, and Mosaic Realty Partners. The seller was Warex-Jessup LLC. The sale price of the property was not disclosed. The entire 60-acre property, consisting of a 728,073-square-foot main building with separate building and site entrances for two tenants, a vehicle maintenance building, a small cross-dock building and a guard shack with perimeter fencing, is available for lease. Cris Abramson, Brian Kruger and Nick Signor of C&W’s capital markets team coordinated the sale on behalf of the seller, in conjunction with the industrial team of Michael Elardo, Jared Ross and Michael Kimmel. Elardo, Ross and Kimmel remain as the exclusive leasing agents, and will coordinate the marketing efforts.

Moody’s gives Baa3 rating to sale of notes by COPT

Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a Baa3 rating to the proposed $350 million senior unsecured notes being marketed by Corporate Office Properties Trust L.P., the operating partnership of Columbia-based Corporate Office Properties Trust.. Net proceeds from the offering will be used to repay certain outstanding borrowings and for general corporate purposes. (A Baa3 credit rating is Moody’s lowest rating of investment grade debt obligation.) Moody’s also affirmed Corporate Office Properties Trust L.P.’s existing Baa3 issuer rating with a stable outlook. COPT is an office real estate investment trust that focuses primarily on serving the specialized requirements of U.S. government agencies and defense contractors, most of whom are engaged in defense information technology and national security-related activities.

Streetscape improvements underway on Route 40

Howard County officials announced the start of construction on streetscape enhancement projects at two locations on Route 40. The projects, the first to be developed based on the 2010 Route 40 Streetscape Master Plan, will enhance the aesthetics of the corridor and include stormwater management elements to mitigate runoff and improve water quality. The two locations are US 40 at Wheaton Way and US 40 at Chatham Road. They were selected because officials determined improvements there would provide the greatest visual impact. The work will include new curbing for the medians, with portions made of brick-style stamped concrete. There will also be new plantings of flowers. Future projects will add enhancements and amenities at other intersections and high-impact locations along the corridor. Work was scheduled to start around May 1 and take about three weeks to complete. Work will be performed at night to minimize the impact on traffic.

EA Engineering to do environmental work for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

EA Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc., of Hunt Valley, a provider of interdisciplinary environmental services, said it was awarded a contract to perform environmental remediation work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Baltimore District at multiple locations. The contract has a five-year term, with a maximum total acquisition value of $100 million, to be spread among five small-business contractors. Work to be performed includes environmental investigations and response actions at known or suspected hazardous and toxic waste sites, and possibly remediation of radioactive material, military munitions and explosives, and environmental sustainability services. This is EA’s second such contract with the Corps of Engineers-Baltimore District.

Lockheed opens cyber security center

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s 56,000-square-foot cyber security center has opened in the Fort Meade area, and the Bethesda-based defense contractor celebrated the opening with employees, customers and industry partners receiving tours of the state-of-the-art facility as well as technology demonstrations. The new Cyber Center of Excellence has a seating capacity for 250 professionals, and contains system labs, employee training rooms and an Advanced Innovation Center. “The opening of the Cyber Center of Excellence further solidifies Anne Arundel County’s reputation as the nexus of cyber security development, giving more promise to high-tech job growth and business opportunities in the area,” commented Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.

Accokeek building to set high standard

(AP) A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 25, 2013, for an energy-efficient building in Prince George’s County. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown were among officials scheduled to attend the ceremony in Accokeek for the Potomac Watershed Study Center. The building is being touted as one of the most environmentally friendly in the world. When it is finished, supporters say it will take green buildings to a new level by being a net-zero water, net-zero energy and carbon neutral facility. It’s the region’s first Living Building. Now, there are only three certified Living Buildings in the world.

COPT’s funds from operations fall in 1Q

Corporate Office Properties Trust, a Columbia-based real estate investment trust focused on U.S. government agencies and defense contractors, saw its first-quarter funds from operations drop in 2013 compared to the prior year. COPT reported FFO of $45.4 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, in this year’s first quarter, compared to $49.1 million, or 59 cents per diluted share, for the same period in 2012. Revenue for the quarter totaled $131 million versus $132.2 million for the year-ago period, largely due to a decrease in construction contracts and other services. Funds from operations is used in calculating a REIT’s financial performance because it gives a more accurate picture of cash flow.

Baltimore hospital gets Angeloses’ gift

Saint Agnes Hospital announced it received a $2.5 million donation from attorney and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his wife, Georgia, which is being used to support a new medical building that opened at the Southwest Baltimore hospital in February. The four-story, 80,000-square-foot Angelos Medical Pavilion encompasses the hospital’s expanded Cancer Institute, as well as a variety of specialties, including cardiovascular, bariatrics, urology, pulmonary, thoracic, general surgery and others. The Angelos pavilion is part of a $200+ million expansion of the hospital campus, which includes a new patient tower, renovated chest pain emergency department and a new parking garage.

ETC plans move to Highlandtown area

Baltimore’s Emerging Technology Centers, known as the ETC, announced that it will move its technology incubator to 101 N. Haven St., a renovated historic industrial building near Highlandtown that once housed the King Cork and Seal Co. ETC’s current lease at 2400 Boston St., in Canton, expires in October. The new location will house 31 resident startup companies, and also serve as a “hub” for ETC’s growing portfolio of virtual companies. Several ETC graduates have also signed leases for commercial space at Haven Street. The ETC — a venture of the Baltimore Development Corp. — will maintain its other location at the Johns Hopkins University – Eastern Campus on 33rd Street.

BGE donates time and money to Habitat

Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. said it has given $300,000 to Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake to improve the energy efficiency of 180 limited-income homes. The utility also announced that nearly 40 of its employees teamed up with HHC last week to help rehabilitate a home in the Orchard Ridge neighborhood of Baltimore, as a kickoff to a three-year commitment by BGE to the nonprofit organization. Habitat for Humanity is a national ecumenical Christian housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need. HHC’s clients live in Baltimore, and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.

Stream restoration proposals sought

(AP) State officials are seeking proposals for Maryland’s Stream Restoration Challenge. The program, which began last summer, seeks to establish 1,000 acres of forested stream buffers by 2015. The buffers help keep stormwater runoff and sediment from entering waterways and eventually the Chesapeake Bay, where they can cause oxygen-robbing algae blooms and harm plant life and other bay species. The program provides up to $6 million in grants to local governments, school systems and other groups for bay restoration, service learning and environmental education projects. Proposals are chosen based on factors including effectiveness, cost and student participation. The Department of Natural Resources is accepting proposals through May 30.

Anne Arundel Exec nixes stormwater fees

(AP) Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman has vetoed a stormwater remediation fee, asking the county council to consider phasing-in fees for some property owners. Neuman vetoed the bill on April 25, giving the council two months to develop a new plan or override the veto. The council narrowly passed the bill two weeks ago. The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill last year directing 10 jurisdictions, including Anne Arundel County, to establish the fee by July 1 or face fines. Stormwater is a main source of water pollution and the money will pay for efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Metro cold-shoulders transit center hub

(AP) The D.C. Metro system said it won’t operate the Silver Spring Transit Center as planned because flaws make it too expensive to maintain. The Washington Post reported that the transit agency notified Montgomery County officials that even if construction and design flaws in the $120 million facility are corrected, it would be too large a burden for the agency. The three-level bus and train hub is over budget and already more than two years behind schedule. Repairs are expected to take at least another year. Metro says it still plans to operate Metrobus service from the center, but won’t pursue inter-city bus operations there.

Choice Hotels’ profit drops in 1Q

Choice Hotels International Inc., a Silver Spring-based hotel franchise chain, reported first-quarter net income of $15.5 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, versus net income of $20 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, for the year-ago period. Revenue totaled $136.9 million, up from $129.2 million in the 2012 quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast, on average, earnings of 27 cents per share on revenue of $135.13 million. In reporting quarterly results, the company said it incurred $7.7 million of additional interest expense related to financing transactions it entered into during the second and third quarters of 2012.

HUD funds to aid low-income disabled

Officials of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development announced the state will receive approximately $11 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a rental assistance demonstration program. The program provides rental assistance to extremely low-income persons with disabilities, many of whom are transitioning out of institutional settings or are at high risk of homelessness. The HUD funds will provide five years of rental assistance for 150 units, split evenly between the Baltimore and Washington areas. Maryland is one of 13 states selected to receive the HUD rental assistance demonstration funding.

Flir Systems moves to larger facility

Flir Systems Inc., a thermal imaging (infrared) systems manufacturer based in Wilsonville, Ore., is opening an 80,000-square-foot engineering and manufacturing facility in Elkridge on Wednesday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled with guests invited from Howard County government, Maryland’s congressional delegation, state agencies and officials from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. The company is moving from a smaller, 35,000-square-foot facility, also located in Elkridge. The new location in the Troy Hill Commerce Center is designed to accommodate existing development and production programs and prepare for future growth. More than 70 employees, consultants and subcontractors will work in the new facility.

Conservation group gets funds pledge

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Queenstown, announced that it has received a pledge of $250,000 from the Grayce B. Kerr Fund to be put toward the planned Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton. The conservation center will consist of a historic warehouse building, now vacant, which ESLC has purchased, and a neighboring building that was donated after being damaged in a fire in the fall of 2012. ESLC plans to renovate both buildings as a center for green conservation. The Grayce B. Kerr Fund, based in Easton, is a foundation focused on education, research, the environment and community enhancement.

Housing for homeless planned in Howard

Howard County is partnering with Volunteers of America Chesapeake Inc., a nonprofit homeless services provider, on a new, 30-unit affordable housing development and resource center for homeless people, to be built on Guilford Road near the intersection of Routes 1 and 32. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said the county will acquire eight acres of land for $3.25 million, which will be turned over to the Howard County Housing Commission. The commission will lease the land to VOA Chesapeake, which will develop, build and manage the facility. There were more than 200 homeless persons in the county in January 2013, officials said, many of whom are employed but unable to find affordable housing.

Anne Arundel Council overrides fee veto

(AP) The Anne Arundel County Council has voted to override the county executive’s veto of a stormwater remediation fee and will now consider emergency legislation to modify the fee. The new legislation introduced Wednesday would lower the commercial properties fee cap and phase in homeowners’ fees. County Executive Laura Neuman vetoed the original legislation last week, asking the council to consider changes. The General Assembly passed a bill last year directing 10 jurisdictions, including Anne Arundel County, to establish the fee by July 1 or face fines. The money will pay for efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

PERSONNEL

Jones Lang LaSalle, a national professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients, announced that Lindsay Summerfield has joined the firm’s Mid-Atlantic Industrial Practice Group as a vice president in the Baltimore office. Summerfield has more than 10 years of commercial real estate experience in both landlord and tenant representation. She was previously employed as a vice president in the Baltimore office of Colliers International, specializing in the sale and leasing of properties throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor, with a concentration in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

From left, Heidi Thomas, Terry Burns, Ryan Johnson, Alice Jones, Rudraksha Jhaveri, and Peng Gu.

Mahan Rykiel Associates Inc. a Baltimore-based landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm, promoted six of its staff to associate principal, senior associate and associate levels. Named as associate principals were Peng Gu and Heidi Thomas. New promoted to senior associates were Alice Jones, Ryan Johnson and Terry Burns. Also, Rudraksha Jhaveri has been promoted to the level of associate.

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LEASES 

The BBQ Joint has signed a lease with St. John Properties Inc. for 2,282 square feet of space at Magothy Beach Plaza, a neighborhood shopping center located near the intersection of Md. Route 100 and Magothy Beach Road in Pasadena. The restaurant — the second one in Maryland owned by Andrew Evans, a chef who previously owned the Inn at Easton — is expected to open by early summer. Evans also owns a BBQ Joint in Easton.

Bozzuto & Associates Inc., a diversified residential real estate company, signed a new 74,117-square-foot lease at 6406 Ivy Lane in Greenbelt, a 163,857-square-foot office building located in Capital Office Park. Bozzuto was represented in the leasing deal by Demetri Koutrouvelis and Nicole Miller, both of Studley. The landlord, Mack-Cali Realty Corp., of Edison, N.J., was represented by its own director of leasing, Kenneth Smondrowski.

Merritt Properties LLC reported the following recently signed leases:

* Lukoil Marine Lubricants USA Inc., a marine lubricant production and sales company, leased 1.411 square feet of office space at 729 E. Pratt St. Lukoil was represented in the transaction by Nick Roper of Long and Foster Real Estate. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering , Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs handled the deal for the landlord.

* The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors leased 7,698 square feet of office space at Timonium Two, an office building at 1954 Greenspring Drive in Timonium. The GBBR will use the space for its residential Realtors board office. Pat Franklin, Whit Levering , Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the landlord, Merritt Properties.

* The Garden Creative LLC, a broadcast/graphic design company, leased 500 square feet of office space at Columbia Corporate Park, 8850 Stanford Blvd., Suite 1950 in Columbia. The deal was handled by Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Lauren Lindsay, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw, representing the landlord.

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