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Real Estate Weekly – 8/23/13

Easement protects historic area from sea level rise impacts

The Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved funding to preserve 221 acres in Dorchester County through a first-of-its-kind easement designed to protect coastal areas from the impacts of sea level rise and storm surge. The land lies along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and Scenic Byway.

A new element under Program Open Space, Coastal Resilience Easements are designed to protect areas that may be prone to high waters and storm surge by permanently eliminating development, restricting impervious surfaces, protecting areas that allow wetlands to migrate, and requiring periodic Soil Conservation and Water Quality plan updates — all of which can help natural areas more quickly recover from flooding.

The easement will conserve a significant historic site along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and Scenic Byway, including the Brodess Plantation where Tubman was once enslaved. Located less than a mile from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the property features sensitive and important forests, farmlands and wetlands and includes habitat for the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel and Forest Interior Dwelling birds.

The easement was made possible thanks to the late Victoria Lake Waters, Millie Lake, Benito and Barbara Lake, Ellen Bronte Lake and Edward James.

Baltimore Design School to open in renovated building

The new Baltimore Design School building opens its doors Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1500 Barclay St. The $26.85 million, 110,000-square-foot facility is a unique public middle/high school that opened in temporary quarters in 2011, with a focus on three specific areas of design: architecture, fashion and graphic arts. The school’s renovated building, the former Lebow Clothing Factory, contains art galleries, studios, fabrication facilities, a media center, computer labs and classrooms. The former loading dock was transformed into an outdoor fashion show space, and clothing and sewing machines retrieved from the building’s factory days will be featured in a permanent exhibition. BDS, Baltimore City Public Schools and Seawall Development Corp. partnered on the renovation project. Ziger/Snead Architects designed the renovation, and Southway Builders Inc. was the general contractor.

ETC signs first five tenants to new ‘hub’ for startups

ETC, Baltimore city’s technology incubator, has signed the first five tenants for its new location at 101 N. Haven St., near the Highlandtown neighborhood. ETC announced earlier this year that it planned to move from the Canton facility it has occupied since 1999. Its current lease expires in October. The Haven Street building eventually will house 31 resident startup companies. Newly signed tenants are: Adcieo, specializing in social media and digital marketing techniques for nonprofit organizations; American Business Forms and Envelopes, software systems provider of printed business forms; Certified CIO, provider of IT outsourcing, proactive management services and network integration tools for small to media-sized businesses; Foodem, a business-to-business online marketplace connecting wholesale food buyers with food distributors, local farms and specialty food manufacturers; and SameGrain, developer of a social discovery platform that matches people with others of similar demographics, backgrounds, beliefs, interests and more.

Two women establish new construction management firm

Kate Nolan Bryden and Ann Marie Ryan, both formerly of Ryan Commercial LLC, have started their own development and construction management company, AMK Partners LLC, four months after Ryan Commercial joined national commercial leasing firm Lee & Associates. AMK Partners has been contracted to manage the new construction of 655,800 square feet of Class A industrial space at the Mid Atlantic Distribution Center in Perryman, Harford County. The project is owned by a joint venture of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Emory Properties LLC and Ryan Development LLC. While not yet officially classified as a Women’s Business Enterprise, AMK Partners will seek that status, Bryden said. “There is a year waiting process before you can apply for the status but we anticipate completing that by Summer 2014,” she said.

Tails and tongues will wag at opening of new dog park

Baltimore County’s third dog park, appropriately named Wags Dog Park at St. Helena Park, will open with a tail-wagging flourish on Saturday, attended by county officials and residents of the two-legged and four-legged persuasions. The new dog park is a $230,000 improvement to the county’s popular St. Helena Park in Dundalk. The dog park includes small and large playing areas, doggie water fountains and other amenities. St. Helena Park also has picnic areas, a playground and playing fields. The park will be operated by the Friends of Wags Dog Park, a committee of the Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation Council. The group will set the operating rules and regulations, coordinate paid membership and oversee the daily operations of the park. Baltimore County has two other dog parks in operation, at Robert E. Lee Park in Mount Washington and Hannah More Park in Reisterstown. A fourth park is being planned for the Perry Hall/White Marsh area.

Marriott plans sale of three hotels

Marriott International Inc., of Bethesda, the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, said Friday it has entered into a non-binding agreement to sell three Edition-branded boutique hotels currently being built in London, Miami Beach and Manhattan for about $800 million. The identity of the buyer or buyers was not disclosed, although published reports have identified the buyer as a fund controlled by the Abu Dhabi government. If the transaction goes forward, Marriott said it expects each hotel sale would occur after construction is completed, with the company retaining long-term management agreements. The London hotel’s completion is expected within 30 days; the Miami Beach hotel in the second half of 2014; and the New York project in early 2015.

Stalled Shore hospital awarded U.S. grant

The Commerce Department is awarding $1.6 million to Talbot County to support the construction of a new hospital in Easton — if it gets built. The grant announced Friday would help pay for construction of a wastewater system and pump station to serve the new Shore Health System medical center. But Shore Health System announced last month that its plans to build the new $250 million hospital are on hold indefinitely due to lack of money. The Commerce Department said Easton Memorial Hospital is no longer large enough to serve the mid-Shore region, and that relocating the hospital would potentially move 2,100 jobs out of the area and hurt access to health care.

Hearing to be held on closed hospital

(AP) The Legislative Black Caucus has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 18 on the former Crownsville State Hospital, which closed in 2004. The state first sought to redevelop the former psychiatric hospital for African-Americans when it solicited proposals for the 532-acre campus in 2008. Del. Aisha Braveboy, D-Prince George’s, the caucus chair, told The Capital of Annapolis, “I just want to hear about what the community envisions, bring stakeholders together to talk it through and create a shared vision of how that would work.” In July, Community Services Center at Crownsville Inc., a nonprofit group, announced plans to redevelop the site as a $97 million campus for nonprofit organizations.

Dallas firm plans P.G. Co. power plant

A subsidiary of Panda Power Funds, of Dallas, Texas, a 3-year-old, private equity firm that is building several large power generation facilities, has applied to the Maryland Public Service Commission for permission to build, own and operate an 859-megawatt, natural-gas-fueled power plant in an industrially zoned area of Brandywine, in Prince George’s County. In a news release, Panda said the facility is expected to contribute approximately $1.2 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the plant’s first 10 years of operation. The proposed power plant is one of several that are planned in Maryland; others are in Cecil County, Charles County and a second one in Prince George’s County that is separate from the Panda project.

Y to acquire athletic club in Arnold

The Y of Central Maryland and LAR LLC, owner of Big Vanilla Athletic Clubs, announced an agreement for the Y to purchase Big Vanilla’s 80,000-square-foot building in Arnold and convert it to the Greater Annapolis Family Center Y. The agreement calls for a 30-day transition period, with the Y taking full ownership and management effective Sept. 19. The sale price was not disclosed. According to the announcement, current staff of the Arnold facility will be offered the opportunity to become Y employees and remain at the location. The Y, a nonprofit charitable organization, currently operates summer camps and before-and-after school enrichment program sites in Anne Arundel County. Big Vanilla’s other location in Pasadena is not part of the sale.

RMF opens office in Charlotte, N.C.

RMF Engineering Inc., of Catonsville, announced it has opened a full-service office in Charlotte, N.C. The office — the company’s 10th in the Eastern and Southeastern states — will enable RMF to offer localized mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services for health care, higher education, local and federal government projects in the Greater Charlotte area. Additional services, including civil, structural, and commissioning engineering, will continue to be provided from RMF’s Raleigh office. RMF has worked on several projects in the Charlotte area, including the Carolinas Medical Center, and recently completed work at the Rogers Science and Health Building — a four-story, 56,500-square-foot facility, designed for LEED platinum certification on the campus of Queens University.

Baltimore County to air-condition 5 more schools

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on Wednesday announced that five more schools in the county will have air-conditioning installed, bringing to 123 the number of air-conditioned schools, attended by some 30,000 students. The $29.2 million cost will be shared by the county and the state, with the county paying $17.2 million, using bond premium money it earned from its Nov. 29, 2012, bond sale. (The premium is the amount paid to a bond-seller when the coupon rate on the bonds is higher than prevailing interest rates.) Four of the five schools to be newly air-conditioned are elementary-level: Featherbed Lane, Hawthorne, Scotts Branch and Wellwood International, and one is a middle school, Parkville. Of the county’s 160 school buildings, 37 are not air-conditioned.

Maryland MBE goal raised to 29 percent

Maryland has increased the overall minority participation goal of its Minority Business Enterprise program to 29 percent on state-funded contracts, it was announced Wednesday by the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs. The former goal — 25 percent minority participation — dates to 2001, and it was met for the first time in fiscal year 2012. GOMA, which sets the MBE goal after consulting with other state agencies, proposed the 29 percent target after considering factors that included the relative availability of minority- and women-owned businesses as shown by the state’s most recent disparity study, and the past participation of MBEs in state procurement. The 29 percent goal will be in place for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 on state-funded contracts.

New hospital site to be in Largo

(AP) Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and a search committee are recommending building a new regional hospital at Largo Town Center. The $645 million facility on 70 acres of county-owned land near a Metro station would replace the financially troubled Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly. The search committee considered four sites and narrowed its choices last month to Largo and Landover Mall. The board of Dimensions Healthcare System, which oversees county-owned medical facilities, will consider the choice this week. A 259-bed, 700,000-plus-square-foot hospital is planned with a full-service medical complex and trauma center, funded with $450 million in bond financing, including about $200 million each from the state and the county. The hospital could open in 2017.

U.S. grant supports Bloede Dam removal

A $3.57 million grant awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to Washington, D.C.-based American Rivers, an organization that works to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams, will be used to support the removal of the historic but outdated Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River straddling Howard and Baltimore counties, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced. Removal of the dam will open up 44 miles of spawning habitat for erring, alewife and American shad, and more than 180 miles of habitat for American eel, according to DNR. Removing the dam will also eliminate a public safety hazard — swimmers have died in the hazardous currents below the dam.

PERSONNEL 

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, of Rockville, a self-administered, self-managed, equity real estate investment trust investing in income-producing properties in the Greater Washington metro region, named Paul T. McDermott as the company’s new president and CEO, succeeding George F. “Skip” McKenzie, who retired after holding the post since 2007. McDermott, 51, is the former senior vice president and managing director of The Rockefeller Group, where he headed the domestic acquisitions team for Rockefeller Group Investment Management Corp., the investment management arm of the developer, owner and operator of global real estate. McDermott has also held executive posts with PNC Realty Investors, Freddie Mac and Lend Lease Real Estate Investments. McDermott will assume his responsibilities on Oct. 1, at which point McKenzie will officially resign from the board, although he will continue to play an advisory role during the transition.

Douglas G. Hoffman

St. John Properties Inc., of Woodlawn, a real estate development and management company, has named Douglas G. Hoffman as senior vice president, property management. Hoffman has more than 25 years of diversified property and asset management-related experience. He was previously president of BPG Management Co. L.P., a full-service real estate investment property management company that provides property management services for more than 10 million square feet of space on the East Coast. In his new position, Hoffman will direct day-to-day operations of St. John Properties’ national portfolio of nearly 17 million square feet of commercial office, R&D/flex, retail and warehouse space, overseeing a staff of more than 40 property management employees.

Cassidy Turley, a commercial real estate services provider, announced that Graham Savage has joined the firm as associate with the Capital Markets Team. He will be responsible for coordinating and assisting in all steps of the investment sales transactions, including the preparation of marketing and offering materials. Previously, Savage spent seven years with Legg Mason’s Capital Management as an associate analyst.

LEASES 

1115_DOLFIELD_BLVD.jpg_webSusquehanna Bank, a regional financial institution headquartered in Lititz, Pa., has signed a lease with Woodlawn-based St. John Properties Inc. for 12,750 square feet of space at 11115 Dolfield Blvd., a two-story, 71,400-square-foot, Class A office building in Owings Mills. The bank intends to relocate its mortgage division to this building from the Hunt Valley area, with an expected opening later this month. The lease increases the overall occupancy of the Owings Mills building to 95 percent. Will McCullough, leasing agent for St. John Properties, represented the landlord, and Mark Deering of MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services represented the tenant in this transaction.

Merritt Properties LLC reported these recently signed leases:

* Inter-Lux Inc., an international lighting design company, leased 21,918 square feet of space (17,370 square feet warehouse, 4,548 square feet office) at Beltway Business Park, 3741 Commerce Drive, Suites 306-308, in Halethorpe. CBRE’s Mike Roden represented the tenant in the transaction. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw represented the landlord.

* BMC Services LLC, a heating, air conditioning and plumbing services contractor, leased 1,500 square feet of space (855 warehouse, 645 office) at Beltway Business Park, 3741 Commerce Drive, Suite 113, in Halethorpe. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw represented the landlord. The tenant’s representative was not identified.

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