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Real Estate Weekly: COPT sees drop in funds from operations

Corporate Office Properties Trust, a real estate investment trust based in Columbia, reported third-quarter funds from operations of $39.1 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, compared with FFO of $42.4 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, for the prior-year period.

Officials traced the decline in FFO primarily to a $5.6 million increase in interest expense. Revenue totaled $128.2 million in third-quarter 2010 versus $199.4 million for the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average projected earnings of 16 cents per share on revenue of $165 million.

Green funds to GEDCO
The Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. of Baltimore, a provider of affordable housing with supportive services, announced that it has been awarded $611,007 in federal economic stimulus funds for energy upgrades at the Gallagher Mansion at 431-35 Notre Dame Lane.

The historic building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been occupied since 1996 by low-income senior citizens 62 years old and over. Planned improvements include replacing existing HVAC equipment, installing efficient water heaters, and carpet and light fixture replacements.

The Michael Group Inc. will be the general contractor for the project.

Meisels joins C&W
A prominent specialist in industrial sales and leasing is switching companies. Cushman & Wakefield announced that Benjamin T. Meisels is joining its Baltimore brokerage services practice group as a senior director, specializing in leasing sales and advisory services to industrial clients in the Maryland market.

Meisels is leaving CB Richard Ellis, where he was a first vice president. Over the course of a 20-year career in commercial real estate, Meisels has also worked for Trammell Crow Co., Insignia and Miller Corporate Real Estate.

“Ben’s move to C&W is a significant addition to our market-leading industrial team,” said David Baird, senior managing director of Cushman & Wakefield in Baltimore. “His market experience and proven success in advising clients and executing complex transactions will help our clients across the full spectrum of their real estate needs.”

USG honored as green leader
The Universities at Shady Grove, part of the University System of Maryland, was presented with two environmental honors: a Green Award from Bethesda Magazine and a Maryland Clean Energy Award.

Bethesda Magazine recognized USG as a nonprofit organization that has significantly incorporated green practices into its culture and operations. The Maryland Clean Energy Center’s awards applaud sustainability leaders that can help ignite Maryland’s clean energy economy.

USG’s Rockville campus is the site of the LEED Gold Camille Kendall Academic Center, the largest green higher education building in Maryland, as well as a new green parking garage. USG’s green emphasis also is evident through initiatives such as the Green Lecture Series, socially responsible food sources, and environmental curriculum development.

Concept plans for Tubman Visitor Center
The concept plans for the Harriet Tubman State Park Visitor Center have been completed, with the final design on track to be ready in early 2011, according to an announcement from Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office.

The endeavor will create the first state park in Dorchester County, which is slated to open by 2013 — 100 years after the passing of Harriet Tubman.  The park is being developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in cooperation with Dorchester County, Caroline County and area residents.

The Maryland Department of General Services will manage the design and construction project for DNR. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park was created in 2007 on the 17.3-acre Linthicum tract, which was acquired through a swap with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Tubman Visitor Center will feature interpretive exhibits highlighting Tubman’s life growing up on the Eastern Shore, her work with the Underground Railroad and her civil rights advocacy.

The State Park amenities will include a memorial walking trail, reflection pond and pavilion. Completion of the construction phase of the projects is contingent on funding.

O.C. pipe replacement expected to be costly
Ocean City’s public works officials say it will cost $6 million to replace more than 15 miles of underground stormwater pipes over the next 10 years.

During a recent public meeting, Public Works Director Hal Adkins said Ocean City’s aging storm drain system presents other problems, including failing pipes and clogged drains. He said most storm drain systems were installed between 1960 and 1980 by developers using corrugated metal pipes. Adkins said there are no dedicated resources to maintain the storm drain system.

Blackwater refuge addition
The Spicer Tract, a 766-acre land parcel on the eastern part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, will be acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., announced Monday.

He said the valuable land is being purchased with $2.4 million of a $3.4 million congressionally authorized appropriation. Cardin said he worked with Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Frank Kratovil to obtain the appropriation.

The 27,000-acre Blackwater, one of the nation’s premier wildlife refuges, contains one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, and some of the state’s most ecologically important areas.

Greenway seeks support
The Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, which has been identified as a priority segment for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, is seeking public support for its role in a proposed comprehensive management plan being developed by the National Park Service.

Being part of the nation’s first water trail would be a significant tool for economic development in Harford and Cecil counties, leading to funding for trails, museums, public water access and various projects that interpret the region’s history and enhance a visitor’s experience.

The proposed plan can be accessed at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=466&projectID=18545&documentID=36295.

Sears second in EPA energy-efficiency contest
A Maryland Sears store is among the finalists in a national energy efficiency contest.

The Glen Burnie store placed second in the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s National Building Competition. First place was claimed by a dormitory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which cut energy use 35.7 percent.

The Sears store cut energy use 31.7 percent, and an office building in Arlington, Va., cut energy use 28 percent. The competition measured energy performance from Sept. 1, 2009 through Aug. 31, 2010. The EPA said the 14 competitors saved more than $950,000 in utility bills.

This Week in Leases

  • First Potomac Realty Trust, a Bethesda-based real estate investment trust that owns and manages office and industrial properties in the Greater Washington region, announced that it has renewed two leases totaling 273,400 square feet at the River’s Bend Center in Chester, Va. Redemtech Inc. renewed its 115,000-square-foot lease in River’s Bend Center through 2016, and a Fortune 500 financial services company, which First Potomac did not identify, renewed its 158,400-square-foot lease through 2018. A First Potomac representative said the two renewals represent over 20 percent of the company’s 2011 Southern Virginia lease expirations. River’s Bend Center is a six-building business park totaling 795,037 square feet, located near I-295 and I-95, south of Richmond, Va.
  • NAI KLNB, which specializes in the sale and leasing of commercial office, industrial and warehouse properties, announced it handled seven industrial leases totaling approximately 345,000 square feet of space on behalf of owner AMB Property Corp. The transactions are: The Room Store, a furniture retailer, leased 113,000 square feet of warehouse space at 8200 State Drive in Jessup; EIFS, a construction supply company, signed an 8,100-square-foot lease at 8301 Patuxent Range Road in Jessup; Locust Industries, a logistics firm, inked a 53,600-square-foot lease at 8750 Larkin Road in Jessup; ABBCO Refrigeration, a manufacturer and distributor of parts for commercial refrigeration systems, agreed to lease 27,000 square feet of space at 8325 Patuxent Range Road in Jessup; PCA, a packaging manufacturing company, leased 75,000 square feet of space at 8301 Sherwick Court in Jessup; ATI Group, a manufacturer and seller of audio equipment, signed a deal for 16,300 square feet at 8301 Patuxent Range Road in Jessup; Corporate Rentals, which leases supplies such as tables, chairs, linens, etc. for special events and activities, leased 53,000 square feet of space at 8840 Greenwood Place in Savage. NAI KLNB principals John Boote and J. Allan Riorda handled the transactions for the landlord.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.