Bond agencies rate Harford Co. highly

Harford County officials this week got good news: The county has maintained top bond ratings from all three rating agencies — Moody’s Investor’s Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s Government.

The suburban area north of Baltimore where Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) has taken root at Aberdeen Proving Ground over the past three years will use the top ratings to continue to grow the local economic base there.

“We continue to work to bring business to Harford County and grow our business community and the local economy,” said Jim Richardson, director of the county’s Office of Economic Development. “Moving forward, with our sound financial management and economic base, we are positioned well for a successful future.”

The county’s bond ratings didn’t change from last year: They posted at “AAA” from Moody’s and Fitch, and Standard and Poor’s rated it “AA+”

Richardson and County Executive David R. Craig traveled to New York last month to meet with representatives of the agencies.

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While the threat of budget cuts under sequestration continues to hammer the airwaves, news this week that a $72 million housing development broke ground on base at Fort George G. Meade for single service members was welcomed because of the fact that the construction will not cost the Army.

The development is part of a public-private partnership and will result in 432 new apartments in a development to be called Reece Crossing at the Anne Arundel County base. It is the first-ever such public-private venture, U.S. Army officials said.

Turning the soil was a group that included Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment; John Picerne, president of Picerne Military Housing (a division of Corvias Group) and Col. Edward C. Rothstein, garrison commander at Fort Meade.

Reece Crossings will provide housing for more than 1,400 junior enlisted single soldiers.

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Promotions this week included a move to make Toby Bozzuto president of the Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Group, six companies representing residential real estate. Bozzuto is the son of company founder, Thomas S. Bozzuto, who will continue as CEO and chairman of the parent company.

In Baltimore, 37-year-old Tony Azola was promoted to president of the 45-year-old Azola & Associates Inc. by his father, Martin.

Azola is a local leader in adaptive reuse redevelopments, which has branched out from restoration of historic properties to include new development standards in new construction projects.

“Many interesting structures, be they 100 years old or 20, have the potential to be very cool workplaces,” said the younger Azola, who relocated back to Baltimore in 2002 from Boston. “And that will always be the root of what we are about.”

The company is currently working on a conversion of the 50,000-square-foot warehouse to a residential center for the Volunteers of America Chesapeake and redevelopment of a former inner city mansion in Mount Vernon into The Ivy, a boutique hotel.

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TIDBITS: Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has been awarded a $1 million grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to help fund construction and rehabs of 56 properties in three Baltimore communities. The work will take place in the Woodbourne-McCabe, Mount Winans and Washington Village-Pigtown neighborhoods…Rockville’s Scheer Partners this week promoted Nate Crowe to senior vice president and director of landlord services. Crowe has been with Scheer since 2006…This week, Mullan Contracting Co. completed major renovations to the Baltimore County-based public high school, Milford Mill Academy. The school was built in 1948. The renovations took place over the past three years and included a new gym and extra classrooms, new plumbing, electrical and HVAC work…Suburban Perryville this month received a check for $32,678 from the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway to help restore the historic Rodgers Tavern as a focal point of downtown business development. The tavern was once owned by Col. John Rodgers, who operated a ferry crossing often used by none other than Gen. George Washington during the 1700s…The Sun reported this week that Spike Gjerde, culinary whiz and owner of the chic Woodberry Kitchen in Hampden, will soon open a new eatery in another under-appreciated city community, Remington. The restaurant will share space with the Single Carrot Theatre when it is completed and will be located on Howard Street…Get ready, Washington! Miss Shirley’s, Baltimore’s own Southern-style café that has added two extra locations and a food truck since it first opened in Roland Park, will soon open a branch in D.C., foodie sources say.

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