Real Estate Weekly: COPT buys two D.C. office building for $119M

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

Corporate Office Properties Trust of Columbia said it has purchased two Class A office buildings, Maritime Plaza I and II, in the Capitol Riverfront submarket of Washington, D.C.

The purchase price of $119 million includes the assumption of a $70.1 million mortgage loan with a 5.35 percent fixed interest rate maturing in March 2014.

The two buildings, one four stories, the other five stories, are 100 percent leased. Over 50 percent of the space is leased to investment-grade tenants, COPT said, including Computer Sciences Corp., General Dynamics Corp. and SAIC.

COPT said the acquisition represents its first entry into a D.C. submarket.

Pebblebrook acquires Minn. hotel
Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda announced that it has acquired The Grand Hotel Minneapolis in that city’s downtown for $33 million.

The transaction was funded entirely with available cash. The140-room, AAA four-diamond, full-service hotel houses the 58,000-square foot Life Time Athletic Club and Life Spa. The hotel will be managed by Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.

Pebblebrook is a real estate investment trust focused primarily on upscale, full-service hotels in large urban and resort markets with an emphasis on the major coastal cities. The company owns five hotels, with a total of 1,430 guest rooms.

Smart growth website unveiled
Attempting to encourage development around Prince George’s County‘s 15 Metro stations, the Washington-based Coalition for Smarter Growth on Tuesday launched a website urging developers to “Invest Prince George’s.”

The online guide (www.smartergrowth.net) features maps, zoning information, key government contacts and travel times to downtown D.C. and area airports for all 15 Metro stations.

Growth has lagged around the county’s Metro stations, although the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last week announced plans for a 5.5 million-square-foot development on 39 acres near the New Carrollton Metro station. WMATA is said to be seeking a joint development partner in the project.

SAIC opens cyber center in Columbia
Science Applications International  Corp., of McLean, Va., a government services contractor, held opening ceremonies Monday for its new Cyber Innovation Center in an office building at the Columbia Gateway business park in Columbia.

The CIC includes a technical solutions lab and secured infrastructure, as well as research and development, and training and conference spaces, and demonstration, prototyping and proposal solution support areas. SAIC employs about 6,500 people in Maryland.

The announcement did not specify the number of employees in the new facility, but said it is remotely available to SAIC employees throughout the U.S.

Miller’s Court wins award
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond A. Skinner announced Tuesday that the department was awarded the President’s Award for Innovation by the Council of State Community Development Agencies for the Miller’s Court project in Baltimore City.

COSCDA is an advocacy organization for states working with federal Housing, Homeless and Community Development Block Grants. Miller’s Court is a $20.3 million mixed-use project that involved the redevelopment of a historic but environmentally contaminated, former industrial property into a LEED Gold Certified project that provides “socially conscious” residential, office and commercial space.

The developer, Seawall Development Co., focused on providing affordable loft-style apartments for school teachers who instruct disadvantaged children through the Teach for America program.  The building also contains office space for nonprofit groups that support Baltimore’s public schools, along with free conference facilities and a neighborhood coffee bar.

Old department store to be razed
Morgan State University announced the start of work to demolish the former Hechinger/Burlington Coat Factory building at the Northwood Shopping Center in Northeast Baltimore.

The building’s site will become the home of the university’s School of Business and Management. Rodgers Brothers Services, the demolition contractor hired by the university, is presently removing asbestos from the building’s interior, which will continue through the end of October, according to university officials.

Selective demolition of portions of the building structure (the canopied area), elevated parking structure and the northern portion of the site are to begin around the second week in October.  Demolition work on the main building structure is expected to begin around the third week in November.  It is anticipated the building demolition and debris removal will take three to four months.

Hord Coplan Macht promotes two
Hord Coplan Macht Inc. of Baltimore, a full-service architecture and landscape architecture firm, announced that Jim Albert and Jim Determan have been promoted to principal.

Albert, a member of the firm’s health care studio, provides leadership and management for a number of HCM’s hospital and freestanding ambulatory projects.

Determan, a member of the education studio, specializes in the design of K-12 private and public schools as well as in university work. He is a past president of AIA Baltimore, and past Regional Director for AIA National, and was recently selected to chair the 2012 AIA National Convention to be held in Washington, D.C.

Increases and declines in area construction jobs
Construction employment expanded in 56 out of 337 metropolitan areas between August 2009 and August 2010 according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

More cities added construction jobs during the past year than at any point since September 2008, indicating that the worst of the industry’s job losses may be over, association officials noted. Among metropolitan areas that added jobs were Maryland’s Calvert-Charles-Prince Georges counties, which saw an increase of 1,200 jobs, up 3 percent, and Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, up 300 jobs or 1 percent.

The Baltimore-Towson metro area saw a 9 percent drop, down 6,700 jobs over the period, while the Hagerstown-Martinsburg, W.Va., area experienced a 2 percent decline, or a loss of 100 jobs.

This Week in Leases

  • Manekin LLC was selected to handle sales and leasing of Riverwood Center (7101 Riverwood Drive) in Columbia. Owned and managed by Merritt Properties, the property is located in Rivers Corporate Park at the corner of Rtes. 29 and 32. The one-story, brick construction Riverwood Center contains 43,618 square feet of space with a 20,850-square-foot expansion capability. Zoned for office, light industrial or R&D use, the property also offers free surface parking. The building presently is undergoing exterior façade renovation and having a new roof installed. Additionally, the HVAC, electric and plumbing systems are being upgraded. Manekin’s Liz Tarran-Jones serves as the listing agent along with colleagues Richard Fields and Adam Nachlas.