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Real estate weekly – 4/18/14

Cushman & Wakefield releases first-quarter office market report

Leasing activity in the Baltimore metropolitan area for the first quarter of 2014 totaled approximately 1 million square feet, a 22.8 percent increase from the prior-year period, according to an Office Research MarketNote by national commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. However, according to the report, for the first time in five years renewal activity exceeded new leases. Activity was driven less by lack of demand than by lack of available space.

Among the highlights:

* Lease renewals during the quarter totaled 563,064 square feet, accounting for 54.2 percent of all deals transacted. Newly leased space amounted to 475,940 square feet

* The largest office space deal during the quarter was T. Rowe Price’s renewal of 424,877 square feet at 100 E. Pratt St. in downtown Baltimore. The second largest was the Howard County Bureau of Environmental Health’s renewal of 54,249 square feet at 7178-7180 Columbia Gateway Drive.

* Howard County had the area’s lowest direct vacancy rate in the first quarter, 11.8 percent. Baltimore city’s direct vacancy rate was second-lowest, at 12 percent. (The direct vacancy rate is the amount of space available for lease directly from landlords, excluding subleases, divided by the total space inventory.)

Horizon Cinemas renovating closed movie house in Glen Burnie

Marley Station Mall in Glen Burnie announced that Horizon Cinemas, a Pikesville-based movie theater operator, will reopen a vacant theater in early summer of 2014. The space, formerly operated by Regal Cinemas, will become an eight-screen movie house. Renovation has been underway since Regal closed in late February. The new Movies at Marley Station will reopen to the public with four theatres, all which have been gutted and completely updated with new, comfortable seats with extra legroom and modernized flooring. The reconstructed lobby will feature state-of-the-art digital signage and upgraded concession options. The other four theaters will be renovated later this summer. The movie complex will feature new digital projectors with 3D capabilities, to provide customers with the best movie-watching experience. Horizon Cinemas currently operates The Rotunda Cinemas in Baltimore city, and the Beltway Movies and Pikes Theatre in Baltimore County.

KLNB Retail launches new Single Tenant Net Lease Group

KLNB Retail, of Towson, a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm, has launched a new Single Tenant Net Lease Group to provide advisory services for investment entities interested in the acquisition of single-tenant net-lease retail properties. The group will assist with such transactions nationally. Deals traditionally involve free-standing buildings that are leased and occupied by a single retail user, such as quick-serve restaurants, automotive parts suppliers, national banks and drug stores, among others. Leases are typically between 10 and 25 years long with built-in rent escalations, and represent investment opportunities for institutions such as real estate investment trusts, life insurance companies and pension funds. Peter Snell heads the new group, based at the commercial real estate brokerage firm’s Washington office. Rich Sillery will assist as an investment associate. Prior to joining KLNB, both Snell and Sillery worked on single-tenant net-lease transactions while employed at two Bethesda-based commercial real estate services firms, Marcus & Millichap and The Greysteel Co.

Mullan Contracting wins awards from ABC’s Baltimore Chapter

The Mullan Contracting Company, of Lutherville, captured four “Award of Excellence” honors in the 2014 awards competition of the Baltimore Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, tying for the highest number of first-place awards among all general contracting companies in the Baltimore metropolitan region. The projects for which Mullan was honored were:

* Renovation of the Saint Ignatius Loyola Academy, after the tuition-free independent Jesuit middle school in Baltimore relocated to a new building in Federal Hill.

* New construction of The Naylor Building for Upper School science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) on the campus of McDonogh School, a private co-educational school in Owings Mills.

* Two construction projects at Calvert School in Baltimore, one a 252-seat assembly hall within the middle school building, and the other a 10,000-square-foot addition to its lower school.

Before you dig, call Miss Utility

April is National Safe Digging Month and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reminds all customers and contractors to call 811 to have utility-owned underground lines marked before digging. Nationwide, every eight minutes someone damages an underground utility line because of digging without first calling 811. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. For most digging projects, calling Miss Utility is the law. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree or laying a patio are all examples of digging projects where a call to 811 should be one of the first steps. When calling 811, customers and contractors are connected to Miss Utility to provide information about their project. Miss Utility will notify BGE and all member utilities of the plan to dig. The utilities will then mark their underground facilities. Calls are required at least two business days in advance of digging.

LEASES 

St. John Properties, of Baltimore, a commercial real estate development company, signed leases for three new fast-casual restaurants that will occupy spaces in its portfolio of business communities in the Greater Baltimore metropolitan region. They are:

* Royal Karma, an Indian restaurant, which is planning a late summer opening at Annapolis Technology Park. This is the restaurant’s second location, joining an eatery in the Honeygo Village Center in White Marsh.

* El Toro Bravo, a Mexican restaurant, which expects to open at BWI Technology Park II near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in the fall. This will be the restaurant’s second location; its first is in downtown Annapolis.

* Squisito Pizza and Pasta, which is looking to open in early spring at Yorkridge Center North, a three-building office, flex and retail complex in the Cockeysville/Hunt Valley section of Baltimore County. This will be the Italian-themed restaurant’s first entry in Baltimore County; it operates seven locations in Anne Arundel County.

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