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Real Estate Weekly: COPT’s revenue slumps as leasing proves ‘challenging’

Leases, news and notes from Maryland's commercial real estate industry

Corporate Office Properties Trust of Columbia, a real estate investment trust, reported second-quarter funds from operations fell to $38.9 million, or 53 cents per diluted share, from $46.9 million, or 67 cents per diluted share, in the 2009 period.

FFO, a key measure of a REIT’s performance, adds depreciation and amortization back into earnings. Officials said a “challenging” leasing environment was chiefly responsible for a drop in revenue to $135.3 million this past quarter compared to $208.3 million in the prior-year period.

Color CHAI green
CHAI, a housing and community development agency affiliated with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, has relocated to a new, green building about a block away from its former location.

The agency, whose name stands for Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., is leasing about 95 percent of a 10,000-square-foot, two-story building at 5809 Park Heights Ave. that is owned by The Associated. Officials at The Associated said the move was necessitated by CHAI outgrowing its former quarters at 5721 Park Heights Ave.

They said the new building was built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

Canusa LEEDs the way
Canusa Corp., a recycled paper and boxboard company based in Baltimore, announced that it has been awarded LEED certification for its headquarters in a historic building at 1532 Thames St. in Fells Point.

Known as the George Wells House, the building at the intersection of Thames and Bond streets dates back to 1787. At one time it was operated as a colonial inn, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, the building deteriorated and was once condemned by the city housing department.

Instead, Canusa acquired it, stabilized it in 2000 and later build an addition on the original structure. Once the stabilization and addition were completed, Canusa hired Baltimore-based RCG Architects to transform the expanded structure into contemporary, environmentally conscious office space for its new headquarters.

Include Software buys Annapolis condo space

Include Software, a business management software company, purchased a 3,290-square-foot office condo at Annapolis Towne Centre. MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services announced the transaction.

Include Software is the first to settle in the 47,000-square-foot, Class A office building, which is located in a $500 million, mixed-use development by Owings Mills-based Greenberg Gibbons Commercial. Include’s 10 employees will occupy the new office space at 1906 Towne Centre Blvd. in September.

The LEED-certified space will accommodate up to 22 employees. MacKenzie Contracting Co. LLC is managing the tenant fit-out of the space.

Cockeysville library expansion finished
Holland Construction Corp. completed the reconstruction of the Baltimore County Public Library branch in Cockeysville. Work on the $2.2 million renovation and expansion of the 23,000-square-foot library branch included a 1,600-square-foot addition under an accelerated, nine-month construction schedule.

Among the improvements are an expanded children’s area, new restroom facilities, tutoring rooms, a group conference room and quiet study room. Holland Construction is headquartered in Hanover, Pa., with a branch office in Columbia.

U.S. Green Building Council to outline reporting requirements
The Maryland chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council has scheduled an Aug. 3 ribbon-cutting at its new headquarters in the renovated Schilling Green office building at 230 Schilling Circle in Hunt Valley.

Prior to the ribbon cutting, Scot Horst, executive vice president for LEED at the USGBC, will give a briefing on continuing energy and water use reporting requirements for LEED projects. The USGBC’s Maryland chapter moved its headquarters from Baltimore City to the Hunt Valley location because it was attracted by the LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) rating of the building.

Schilling Green, a 106,208-square-foot, three-story, Class A office building, obtained the first Platinum-certified Core and Shell rating — the highest rating — in the Baltimore area from the USGBC. Woodlawn-based Merritt Properties LLC is the developer of Schilling Green.

DiamondRock Hospitality posts lower funds from operations
DiamondRock Hospitality Co. of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on high-end hotels, reported second-quarter adjusted funds from operations of $21.6 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, versus FFO of $24.9 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, for the same period in 2009.

FFO is a key measure of a REIT’s financial performance. Revenue for the quarter was $151.1 million versus revenue of $143.6 million for the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had projected revenue of $152 million and FFO of 16 cents per share for the 2010 period.

DiamondRock Hospitality Co. also disclosed that on July 1 it agreed to acquire the 166-room Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel, in Charleston, S.C., for a price of $39 million. The acquisition is expected to be completed in August, subject to the satisfaction of usual closing conditions, and will be funded with corporate cash.

Two weeks earlier, on June 17, DiamondRock completed the acquisition of the 821-room Hilton Minneapolis hotel in Minneapolis, Minn., for a total price of $156 million.

Algeco expands inventory
Algeco Scotsman, a White Marsh-based supplier of mobile office and storage units, announced its acquisition of more than 2,000 mobile and secure storage units from Cabin Centre Ltd., a modular space supplier based in the United Kingdom.

Financial details were not disclosed. The transaction is intended to support Algeco Scotsman’s plans for global expansion. The assets from the acquisition will be integrated into Algeco’s business operations in the United Kingdom, known as Elliott Hire.

Bruno Roqueplo, chief executive officer for Algeco EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), said the increase in the company’s inventory of rental units “enables us to meet current and emerging requirements for national construction companies, as well as industrial and commercial organizations.”

Homebuilder’s new home
Trout Daniel & Associates, a full-service commercial real estate company in Timonium, announced the sale of a 0.57-acre commercial property, including a 4,200-square-foot building that housed a variety of restaurants, to Landmark Properties of Ritchie Highway LLC/Ameri-Star Homes.

The property, located at 7411 Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie, sold for $655,000, and will serve as Ameri-Star Homes’ corporate office. Trout Daniel’s Matthew S. Melnick and Arthur Putzel represented the owner, ABGLO Associates.

Mike Cadogan of Century 21 Don Gurney represented the buyer. Ameri-Star Homes, a regional homebuilder serving Anne Arundel County and Central Maryland, expects to raze the existing building and construct new office space. The new office is expected to open in early 2011.

This Week in Leases

  • USGC Inc., a provider of advanced information technology, cyber-security and other professional and technical services to the federal government, agreed to lease 3,232 square feet of Class A office space at the Maryland Science & Technology Center business community in Bowie. The new headquarters will be located at Melford Plaza II, 16901 Melford Blvd., and will be occupied on or before Nov. 1. Matthew S. Melnick of Trout Daniel & Associates of Timonium represented USGC. The landlord, St. John Properties Inc., was represented by Sean Doordan.