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Real Estate Weekly – 5/10/13

Baltimore’s Chambers design firm acquires rival firm in Dallas

Chambers, a Baltimore-based planning, architecture and interior design firm specializing in private golf, country, city and yacht clubs, has acquired CCI Club Design, of Dallas, Texas, which performs similar work. Details of the acquisition were not disclosed. CCI will take the Chambers name and will continue to be based in Dallas. Chambers will remain headquartered in Baltimore. The acquisition will not result in job losses, both companies said. The combined firm will continue to provide strategic and master planning, operations consulting, architecture, interior design, food service design, purchasing and installation services to clubs nationwide.

D.C. regional open house event will spotlight housing affordability

The Communications Action Network, consisting of more than 160 businesses and organizations working to promote housing affordability, will hold open houses at various locations in Suburban Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District to illustrate the necessity of housing affordability for the health and vitality of the D.C. region’s economy. The open houses will take place on Saturday, May 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nearly 20 affordable communities around the Washington metro area are taking part in the open house to show current examples of affordable housing. For information on the event, dubbed the “Parade of Homes,” go to http://www.caninitiative.org/2013-parade-of-homes/.

Groundbreaking scheduled in Dundalk

for moderate-income apartments for seniors A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, at the site of The Greens at Logan Field, an affordable rental housing development in Dundalk that will feature 102 apartments for low- and moderate-income seniors. When completed, the community will contain 84 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom apartments for seniors earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income. Enterprise Homes Inc., of Columbia, is the developer of the $15.2 million project, which is located on a three-acre site that was originally part of the first municipal airfield in Baltimore after World War I. The architectural firm of Grimm + Parker Architects Inc., of Calverton, designed the Greens at Logan Field, Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. is the general contractor, and Habitat America of Annapolis will provide property management services.

Fire chiefs, insurance institute urge

congressional passage of building code act The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety are urging Congress to enact the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, which provides financial incentives for states to adopt and enforce strong building codes. The SBCIA was to be introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday, May 8. Twelve states, including Maryland, currently would qualify for the additional disaster aid under SBCIA. Several other states could qualify with relatively minor changes to their building code systems. The bill would provide qualifying states with an additional 4 percent of funding for post-disaster assistance if they use nationally recognized model building codes. Specifically, states would need to adopt and enforce the International Residential Code from either of the two most recent updates (2012 or 2009).

Former Unilever ice cream plant in Hagerstown sold to joint venture

A joint venture of New Mill Capital LLC of Los Angeles and M Davis Group LLC of Pittsburgh said it purchased a former ice cream plant in Hagerstown from Unilever. The price paid for the 142,000-square-foot plant was not disclosed. The property was sold in its entirety, including equipment, after having ceased production in fall 2012. The NMC/MDG joint venture plans to remarket the facility to other ice cream manufacturers and alternative food users who can use the plant’s central East Coast location and abundant infrastructure to expand or augment their existing operations. Dan Hudak of Lutherville-based MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services brokered the transaction.

Federal Realty Investment Trust closes

$275M public offering of unsecured notes Federal Realty Investment Trust, of Rockville, a real estate investment trust focused on high-quality retail assets, announced the closing of its public offering of $275 million aggregate principal amount of 2.75 percent senior unsecured notes due June 1, 2023. The notes were offered at 98.749 percent of the principal amount with a yield to maturity of 2.894 percent. Interest on the notes will be payable on June 1 and Dec. 1 of each year, beginning this December. Federal Realty intends to use the net proceeds to redeem its outstanding 5.40 percent notes due 2013, to repay any outstanding indebtedness under its revolving credit facility and for general corporate purposes, which may include funding potential acquisition opportunities or funding its redevelopment pipeline.

DDG wins prestigious award for work on Guatemala City retail project

Baltimore-based DDG, a design architecture and graphics company, has won the 2013 International Council of Shopping Centers’ Latin America Shopping Center Award for its work on the Portales retail project in Guatemala City. DDG was responsible for the architectural design, the brand identity and the environmental signage and graphics on the 132-store retail center. The ICSC awards are presented for outstanding achievement in marketing, design/development of retail properties, and retail store design.

COPT announces second-quarter dividend of 27.5 cents per common share

Corporate Office Properties Trust, of Columbia, an office real estate investment trust focused on serving the specialized requirements of U.S. government agencies and defense contractors, said its Board of Trustees declared a quarterly dividend of 27.5 cents per common share of beneficial interest for the second quarter of 2013, payable on July 15, 2013, to shareholders of record on June 28, 2013.

Host Hotels beats Wall Street forecast

Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. posted a strong first-quarter performance on a sustained increase in room rates. The Bethesda-based hotel REIT reported funds from operations of $218 million, or 29 cents per share. After adjusting for certain one-time items, FFO was $207 million, or 28 cents per share. The consensus of Wall Street analysts was for FFO of 23 cents per share, according to FactSet. FFO adds items such as amortization and depreciation back to net income, and is a key measure of a REIT’s financial performance. First-quarter revenue was $1.26 billion, up from $952 million in the prior-year period.

Hopkins Medicine opens 4th office in Howard County

Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, the community outreach arm of Johns Hopkins Medicine, announced it will open its newest practice on Monday, May 13, in Fulton, in the heart of the Maple Lawn Business District. Initially staffed by two physicians, the practice occupies 6,548 square feet of space at 8160 Maple Lawn Blvd., and has the capacity to add four more doctors to handle expected growth. The Fulton office is JHCP’s fourth in Howard County. There are more than 30 offices in Maryland, stretching from Charles County to Harford County, and from Queen Anne’s County to Washington County. There are also three offices in Washington, D.C.

Salisbury University gets major gift

Salisbury University has received an $8 million gift to be used to build a new complex that will include a library. The gift from the Guerrieri Family Foundation, of Ocean City, is one of the largest private donations for a capital project in the campus’s history. The facility is expected to cost $115.8 million to build and will occupy 234,000 square feet. It will be the largest construction project ever undertaken at Salisbury University. The Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons is expected to open in 2016. The gift is made in memory of alumna Patricia R. Guerrieri, who passed away in 2010.

Howard Park supermarket starts construction

Baltimore and Maryland elected officials, led by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, joined business leaders, Northwest Baltimore community representatives and officials of Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland to break ground Tuesday for the long-awaited ShopRite of Howard Park supermarket. The 68,000-square-foot, full-service supermarket will include a pharmacy, a health suite staffed by a nurse practitioner, a bakery, an extensive seafood section and a separate halal meat section for Islamic practitioners. A wide selection of international foods, including produce, meat and grocery items, will also be available. The $20 million project with more than 200 parking spaces is expected to be completed by April 2014.

National Harbor apartments underway

The Bozzuto Group, of Greenbelt, and the Peterson Cos., of Fairfax, Va., announced the start of construction of The Esplanade, National Harbor’s first rental apartment development. The $70 million high-rise project will include 262 luxury apartments, 14,400 square feet of street-level retail, and a 420-space parking garage. Residences will be available in studio, one- and two-bedroom floor plans. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2015. National Harbor, developed by the Peterson Cos., opened in 2008. A 350-acre mixed-use community on the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, it now contains hotels, restaurants, retail stores, entertainment options and nearly 600 residential condominiums and townhouses.

Cordish plans new casino near Boston

(AP) Officials with the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. announced Tuesday a plan to build a $200 million hotel and gambling facility on a 20-acre site just off Interstate 495 in Boxborough, about 25 miles northwest of Boston. The plan calls for Cordish to buy, renovate, and expand an existing hotel at the site as a boutique hotel and casino. The project would also include several restaurants, an entertainment area, meeting space, spa and fitness facilities. The plan would need the approval of the host community and state gambling officials. Cordish built the Maryland Live Casino near the Arundel Mills mall, and other gambling and hotel venues.

Largo apartment complex acquired by joint venture

Morgan Properties, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based real estate development, investment and management company, said it has formed a joint venture with DRA Advisors, a New York-based registered investment advisor specializing in real estate investment and management services, to acquire Northampton Apartments, a 620-unit garden apartment development in Largo. Jones Lang LaSalle represented the seller, Chicago-based Equity Residential, on the disposition of the property. The purchase price was not disclosed. Morgan Properties currently oversees a multifamily portfolio of 17 apartment communities with more than 7,000 units in the Maryland- D.C. corridor, 2,000 of them acquired in the past 12 months.

LEASES 

Merritt Properties LLC reported the following recently signed lease transactions:

* Harbor East Law LLC, a law firm, leased 2,632 square feet of office space at 729 East Pratt St. in Baltimore. Charles Feitel of Charles Feitel Co. LLC represented Harbor East Law, and Merritt Properties’ in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the landlord.

* Bully! Commercial and Entertainment Media, LLC, an animation and game design studio, agreed to lease 6,623 square feet of office space at the Foundry on Fort Avenue, 921 Fort Ave., Suites 215-220, in Baltimore. The deal was handled by Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs of Merritt Properties, who represented the landlord.

* M.R. Tech Inc., a fiber optic manufacturer, leased 3,300 square feet of office and warehouse space at 3741 Old Georgetown Road in Arbutus. D. Kaufman of AGM Commercial represented M.R. Tech. Merritt Properties was represented by its in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw.

PERSONNEL 

The Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America honored Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of Greenberg Gibbons, as the 2013 recipient of the Henry A. Rosenberg, Sr., Distinguished Citizen Award at a fundraiser on Tuesday, May 7. The award was presented in recognition of Gibbons’ extraordinary community leadership and outstanding contributions to improving the quality of life in metropolitan Baltimore. Previous honorees include Kenneth DeFontes, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, William Cardinal Keeler, Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., Christian H. Poindexter, Douglas L. Becker, Ed St. John, John Paterakis, Gerard Holthaus, Martin O’Malley, Alan D. Wilson, Louis Cestello and Barry Gossett, among others.

Baltimore law firm Ober|Kaler announced that Joseph C. Kovars, John Anthony Wolf and Barbara Werther of the firm’s Construction Group have been selected for inclusion in the 2013 edition of The International Who’s Who of Construction Lawyers. The reference guide, published by Law Business Research Ltd., identifies foremost practitioners of construction law, basing inclusion on comprehensive research. Kovars is a co-chair of the Construction Group in the firm’s Baltimore office. Wolf is chair of Ober|Kaler and a principal in the Construction Group in the Baltimore office. Werther is a principal in the Construction Group in the Washington, D.C., office.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., is the recipient of the 2013 Robert C. Weaver Housing Champion Award from the Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County. Cummings was scheduled to receive the award on Friday, May 10 from Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. The Robert C. Weaver Housing Champion Award honors individuals who have had a significant impact on affordable housing. The award is named in honor of the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who was also the first African-American to hold a cabinet position in a U.S. president’s administration. Weaver was named HUD secretary in 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

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