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Real Estate Weekly – 10/11/13

Ulman announces launch of the Watershed Protection Partnership Program

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced the launch of the Watershed Protection Partnership Program, which allows not-for-profit organizations and religious institutions to develop and implement plans for greater water quality improvement on their property, while reducing or eliminating the impact of the Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee, dubbed the “rain tax” by opponents. The program creates a credit for up to 100 percent of the local stormwater fee for tax-exempt properties that partner with the county to identify and establish best management practices. The county will offer assistance in developing those plans, and grants to implement those practices and projects. Legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2012 requires 10 Maryland counties to collect a Stormwater Remediation Fee from taxpayers to fund the implementation of local stormwater management practices and stream and wetland restoration projects.

TIC Gums opens third facility in Maryland

TIC Gums, a developer of food ingredients for better texture and sustainability of grocery shelf-life, celebrated the opening of the Brass Mill Operations Center in Belcamp, within walking distance of the company’s Richlynn Operations Center. TIC Gums now has three manufacturing and research facilities in Maryland: the Brass Mill Operations Center, an approximately 200,000-square-foot facility on 20 acres; the Richlynn Operations Center; and the Texture Innovation Center in White Marsh, where researchers create new technologies to support the advancement of texture and stability of ingredients for the food and beverage industries.

Two high schools share new building in Baltimore County

A ribbon-cutting event at Dundalk Sollers Point Technical High Schools officially opened the new shared building. The almost $100 million project houses Dundalk High School, serving southeast Baltimore County students, and the regional magnet Sollers Point Technical High School. The schools share an atrium, gymnasium and 500-seat auditorium, with specialty learning space including state-of-the-art media center, science laboratories, culinary arts kitchen, cosmetology facility, and automotive and construction departments. The building sits on the former site of the outdated high school, originally built in 1959.

Howard County updates Flood Mitigation Plan

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced that the county performed an annual update and assessment of the Flood Mitigation Plan and has sent the update of the plan’s goals and mitigation actions to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Under FMP requirements, the county is responsible for producing a yearly progress report which addresses new flood mitigation goals and key action items. Among the 26 key action items cited in the plan are: preserving environmentally sensitive areas through the use of improved land use and storm water management principles; planting trees in riparian areas; identifying frequently flooded roads; and updating the county’s status under the National Flood Insurance Program. To view the updated goals and mitigation actions of the FMP, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/swm.htm/.

Cushman & Wakefield survey focuses on law firms’ real estate decisions

Cushman & Wakefield, the world’s largest privately held commercial real estate services firm, has released the results of a unique benchmark survey of law firms administered by the company’s Legal Sector Advisory Group. The first-of-its-kind survey provides actionable data concerning key business, financial and operational drivers that influence real estate decisions at law firms. A key metric benchmarked in the survey, which is driving competition among law firms, is the fact that the legal industry occupies on average two to three times the square footage per employee than the banking, finance, insurance and technology industries. C&W’s Legal Sector Advisory Group intends to host informational symposiums in 14 major U.S. cities by year-end to present detailed benchmarking statistics from the survey.

First Potomac announces acquisition of 3rd building in Redland

Corporate Center First Potomac Realty Trust, of Bethesda, announced its $30 million acquisition of Redland I, the third building at Rockville’s Redland Corporate Center. The 133,895-square-foot, Class A office building is 100 percent leased to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through early 2018. First Potomac utilized the 1031 exchange proceeds from the sale of its industrial portfolio in June 2013, as well as cash on hand and the company’s line of credit to finance the acquisition. First Potomac acquired Redland II and III in a joint venture with Perseus Realty LLC in late 2010. The acquisition of the third and final building in the project, Redland I, completes First Potomac’s control of the fully leased office park, and provides the opportunity to expand current tenants in future years.

Groove Commerce relocates to rehabbed building near Harbor East

Groove Commerce, a Baltimore-based digital agency, has moved its headquarters into the former Fallsway Spring & Equipment Co. building in Baltimore. The new, 10,000-sqare-foot space will allow the company to more than double in size. Ethan Griffin, CEO of Groove, chose to move the growing digital company to 415 S. Central Ave., situated between the Harbor East and Little Italy neighborhoods. The company, recently named one of the fastest-growing in America on the Inc. 5000 list, expects to add at least 20 employees in the next year.

CCBC’s automotive tech students get more room to study and work

More than 500 automotive technology students at the Community College of Baltimore County’s Catonsville campus have more room to work, study and perfect their craft with the completion of an expansion to the Transportation Technology Center. The expansion provides an extra 4,693 square feet of space at a cost of $1.2 million. It includes two additional classrooms, a storage space for equipment and doubles the number of work stations, expanding them from seven to 14. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 16 at the campus, 800 South Rolling Road in Catonsville.

South Baltimore Learning Center adds space for NEDP program

The South Baltimore Learning Center has completed a $90,000 building renovation to expand the space for its National External Diploma Program, which has experienced steadily increasing enrollment and maintained a waiting list for entry over the past decade. The NEDP was designed as an alternative to adult education class schedules that did not fit with busy family and/or work responsibilities, and also as a way to offer adults learning opportunities that were relevant and immediately applicable to their lives. The Abell Foundation, France Merrick Foundation, Middendorf Foundation and the state of Maryland together donated $83,000, and SBLC raised an additional $10,000. The construction added a fourth floor to SBLC’s building that is dedicated to the NEDP.

Charm City Concierge to serve The GATE business community

GATE.EntranceSt. John Properties Inc. has selected Charm City Concierge to support the approximately 45 companies situated within The Government and Technology Enterprise (The GATE) project, a 416-acre business community located inside Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. Typical concierge services include arranging for on-site or off-site luncheon and dinner programs; coordinating special events; making travel arrangements; acquiring tickets to sporting events, concerts and other entertainment venues; managing corporate awards and recognition programs; and handling day-to-day convenience assignments such as ordering flowers and arranging for dry cleaning. St. John Properties has developed 12 office or research and development buildings at The GATE within the past four years, totaling more than 675,000 square feet of space.

Armada Hoffler expanding project portfolio in region

Armada Hoffler Inc., of Virginia Beach, Va., a full-service real estate development and construction company operating as a real estate investment trust, is expanding its construction work in the Baltimore region. The company recently completed construction of Under Armour Corp.’s visitors’ center in South Baltimore, and is the general contractor for the $24.4 million Hyatt Place Baltimore / Inner Harbor Hotel, which broke ground on Aug. 19, 2013. Other major construction projects in Baltimore include Legg Mason Inc.’s global headquarters and the Four Seasons Hotel. Armada Hoffler was responsible for many buildings in the Harbor East area, including Spinnaker Bay, a luxury apartment development, and 1000 Lancaster Street, an office building. The company also serves as the lead developer and contractor for a mixed-use retail and apartment complex at the southwest corner of St. Paul and 33rd streets in Baltimore’s Charles Village.

RLJ Lodging Trust acquires 106-room hotel in Portland, Ore.

RLJ Lodging Trust, of Bethesda, a lodging real estate investment trust, announced that it has acquired the 106-room SpringHill Suites Portland Hillsboro, in Portland, Ore., for a purchase price of $24 million, or approximately $226,000 per unit. The purchase price represents a forward capitalization rate of approximately 10 percent on the hotel’s projected 2014 net operating income. The company acquired this asset with cash available on its balance sheet. With this acquisition, the company now owns 151 properties, comprised of 149 hotels with more than 22,400 rooms and two planned hotel conversions, located in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

BGE to start Russell Street roadwork

Motorists traveling along Russell Street (the I-295/Baltimore-Washington Parkway) will encounter traffic obstacles starting on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, as Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews relocate underground utilities to accommodate construction of Caesar Entertainment’s Horseshoe Casino. BGE said this will require roadwork and lane closures in segments along Russell Street between Haines and Worcester streets, including the center lanes of Russell Street in both the northbound and southbound directions. BGE said it estimates the work on Russell Street will continue in segments through July 2014. Work will be scheduled Monday through Saturday during non-rush hours, and will be suspended during games and special events at M&T Bank Stadium, BGE said.

Marriott to transfer listing to Nasdaq

Marriott International Inc. is voluntarily transferring its listing to the Nasdaq Global Select Market from the New York Stock Exchange. The Bethesda-based hotel and time share company said that its shares are expected to start trading on Nasdaq on Oct. 21. Its ticker symbol will remain “MAR.” It will continue trading on the New York Stock Exchange until that time. “We believe this will provide us with cost-effective visibility, as well as efficient access to a portfolio of tools and opportunities to reach investors,” Carl Berquist, Marriott executive vice president and chief financial officer, said. Marriott said its shares will also continue trading on the Chicago Stock Exchange once the transfer occurs.

Four local nonprofits to get development grants

Four nonprofit organizations are getting a total of $3.75 million in grants in Baltimore. The grants come through the new Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative, a demonstration project designed to help attract new investment to the region’s traditional older neighborhoods. The grants will serve as a catalyst for $65 million in investment in those neighborhoods. Targeted neighborhoods have developed comprehensive strategies for new housing and commercial investment. The grants will support projects in Central Baltimore, Dundalk, Reservoir Hill and Southeast Baltimore.

New tenant signs lease for space at UM BioPark

The University of Maryland BioPark announced that the Catholic Health Initiatives Center for Translational Research has signed a lease to relocate from its current operational base at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson to the BioPark in West Baltimore. The CTR, one of three entities within the CHI Institute for Research and Innovation, collaborates with biomedical researchers to assist in the development of next-generation drugs, diagnostics and devices. Under the terms of the signed lease, half of the CTR’s overall anticipated 50-person work force will occupy more than 11,000 square feet of laboratory and office space within the BioPark.

PERSONNEL 

Erickson Living, of Catonsville, has selected Louis O. Kiang as its director of development. In this new position, Kiang will play a key role in the company’s future project development, design and management. Kiang has over 25 years of experience working with major national banks and real estate development companies. His expertise includes property acquisition and improvement, development and design, and leasing and sales. He formerly served as executive director of BioBat Inc.; as a member of the executive management team at Townsend Capital LLC; as a founding member of Wexford Science and Technology LLC; and as a senior vice president at Bank of America. Erickson Living is a major developer and manager of continuing-care retirement communities in the United States.

Colliers International in Baltimore, a full-service commercial real estate firm, announced that Daniel Burns has joined the firm as a transaction manager and Tomica Phillips as a marketing associate. Burns will provide advanced transactional data to the senior partners, assist in lease and sale transactions, and help clients with detailed listing and market information. Prior to joining Colliers | Baltimore, Burns served as a research associate for CoStar Group in Washington, D.C. Phillips was a marketing associate for Transwestern and tenant service coordinator/assistant building manager for Cushman & Wakefield, both located in Washington, D.C. In both positions, Phillips oversaw daily marketing and tenant management. She was also a tenant service coordinator for Capitol Concierge in Washington.

LEASES 

Merritt Properties LLC reported the following recently signed leases:

* Williams Crane Service Inc., which offers mobile crane, heavy hauling and rigging services, leased 5,052 square feet of warehouse space at Kelso, 6 Nashua Court, Suite E (Rear) in Essex. Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs of Merritt Properties represented the landlord. The tenant representative was not identified.

* Concor Networks Inc., a low voltage installer, leased 5,625 square feet of office and warehouse space at Hammonds South, 601 Hammonds Ferry Road, Suites H-J, in Linthicum. Concor was represented by Tyler Boykin of Colliers International. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Vince Bagli, Liz Tarran-Jones and Steve Shaw handled negotiations for the landlord.

* Accelerate Your Game LTD, an athletic training provider, leased 4,500 square feet of space for use as a training facility at 9515 Gerwig Lane, Suite 112, in Columbia. Mike Roden of CBRE represented the tenant in lease negotiations. Merritt was represented by its in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Vince Bagli, Liz Tarran-Jones and Steve Shaw.

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