City backs grant for East Side greening project

The city’s Board of Estimates this week voted to endorse plans to establish the Baltimore Food Hub in a rundown, abandoned city-owned property on the East Side.

The plan is to bring urban hoop gardens and a commercial kitchen as well as an office and training center in what was once a pumping station located at 1801 E. Oliver St.

The project is spearheaded by the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition Inc. in partnership with William “Bill” Struever’s Cross Street Partners, East Baltimore Development Inc. and The Reinvestment Fund, which is based in Philadelphia.

Today, the Victorian red-brick structures on the property sit encased in a massive chain-link fence, decayed from years of neglect.

The board’s vote on Wednesday was for a local government resolution in support of the food hub prior to application for a state Neighborhood BusinessWorks Program grant for $500,000. Those funds will help to redevelop the site. Estimates are that the project could bring 100 permanent jobs.

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Lutherville’s Mullan Contracting Co. this week got the nod from H&S Bakery’s Northeast Foods subsidiary to build a 27,000-square-foot, two-building complex at the Hollander 95 Business Park in the northeastern part of the city.

The facility will be an office and distribution center to replace the current distribution center at the foot of Central Avenue in Harbor East. The nondescript brown cinderblock building there is set to be demolished later this year to make way for a new structure to hold an expanded Whole Foods grocery store and other retail as well as possibly residential units.

A new Hyatt hotel is under construction already next door to the existing distribution center.

The new distribution center is expected to open in midsummer and will also hold a 6,000-square-foot truck maintenance garage.

Northeast Foods, of course, is owned by John S. Paterakis and makes all the buns for fast-food king McDonald’s. That designation also makes the bakery the largest manufacturer and supplier of hamburger buns in the U.S.

Mullan President Joseph W. Rode said the facility will be a pre-engineered steel building while the truck maintenance project will be constructed of masonry and steel.

“Both buildings will need to be built simultaneously in order for us to meet the construction schedule,” Rode said in a statement.

The company will be busy in 2014 with other projects, he added.

“We expect 2014 to be extremely active for Mullan Contracting, as we have a healthy backlog of construction projects throughout the central Maryland and Northern Virginia marketplace.”

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Sherwin-Williams paints opened recently a 4,100-square-foot store in the redeveloped Pikes Village Shopping Center.

The store is located at the site of the former Suburban House Restaurant, once the place to see and be seen in Pikesville at the corner of Sherwood Avenue and Reisterstown Road.

Schwaber Holdings, a Baltimore-based commercial and real estate investment management company, inked the deal.

Pikes Village holds retail, dining and service businesses and is credited with some of the revival going on in the Baltimore County community. It is located next to the newly reopened Pikes Movie Theater.

“Sherwin Williams is a dominant retailer that has a longstanding track record of serving its communities,” said Mark Renbaum, CEO of Schwaber Holdings, in a statement. “We are excited to have Sherwin Williams as the first tenant in our newly redeveloped Pikes Village Center, which promises to add to the renaissance of downtown Pikesville.”

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A final-quarter 2013 report issued Thursday by Delta Associates showed that the luxury rental market in the Washington area was impacted by a recent spike in the number of available units.

The report predicted that the situation would continue into 2015 “and beyond, due to a record-setting wave of 28,500 units delivering to market over the next 24 months.”

Overall, the Class A rents declined across the metropolitan area by 3 percent in 2013. The vacancy rate was 4.7 percent, up slightly from December 2012, when it was 4.2 percent. There were a total of 39,122 rental units on line in the Washington metro area in December 2013.

Perhaps this report should be required reading for Baltimore-area developers building or planning to build record numbers of new luxury rental units all over town — in the downtown business district, Fells Point, Butcher’s Hill and Harbor Point in particular.

TIDBITS: Thompson Creek Window Co., based in Lanham, recently earned an Angie’s List Super Service Award for 2013 … Rockville’s Scheer Partners recently assisted veterinary neurologist and neurosurgeon Bill Bush purchase a 32,000-square-foot building at 1 Taft Court in Rockville for a new office. The Hope Center-Rockville is currently undergoing a $3 million renovation … Riverside Shopping Center in Belcamp near Aberdeen Proving Ground recently became fully leased. The 95,000-square-foot shopping center’s agent is KLNB Retail. New retailers ATI Therapy, MedStar PromptCare and Metro PCS, a national wireless product and service chain, join other tenants that include a ShopRite, Hair Cuttery, Rite-Aid Pharmacy, McDonald’s, Waffle House and PNC Bank … The stunning 12-story John and Frances Angelos Law Center, home of the University of Baltimore School of Law, has earned local architects at Ayers Saint Gross a spot on Engineering News-Record magazine’s 2013 “Best of the Best Projects” list. The list singles out the best in design and construction projects annually. Ayers Saint Gross was the prime architecture firm for the project, collaborating with German design architect Behnisch Architekten … John McClellan, a senior advisor with Sperry Van Ness – Miller Commercial Real Estate in Salisbury, has been elected president of the Peninsula Commercial Alliance. The group was formed three years ago by Realtors in Sussex County, Delaware and the lower Maryland shore counties to help unite commercial real estate professionals with industry types from banking and local governments … First Annapolis Consulting Inc., which specializes in electronic payments, will soon relocate to Annapolis in a 21,000-square-foot office at 3 Park Place … Veteran commercial real estate expert Laura Westervelt recently returned to MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services’ downtown office as vice president. Westervelt previously worked at St. John Properties, Manekin and CB Richard Ellis.

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