Real Estate Weekly: Pebblebrook Hotel Trust secures Goldman funding

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

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on luxury hotels in large urban and resort markets and coastal cities, said it closed a new $52.5 million secured loan with Goldman Sachs Commercial Mortgage Capital L.P. at a fixed annualized interest rate of 4.88 percent.

The loan has a term of five years and is collateralized by the 422-room InterContinental Buckhead Hotel in Buckhead, Ga. Proceeds from the loan will be used to fund future acquisitions and other purposes.

More architecture work for Vitamin
Vitamin, a Baltimore-based public relations, marketing and design firm, said it added four area architectural and engineering firms to its portfolio of clients.

The firms are RMF Engineering Inc. and Gill-Simpson Inc., both of Baltimore; Nika Architects + Engineers of Bethesda; and Wiencek & Associates of Gaithersburg.

Vitamin’s services for RMF include messaging, media relations, media training and ongoing PR counseling. For Gill-Simpson, Vitamin will work to boost the engineering firm’s image through messaging and development of a new website.

For Nika, Vitamin will provide services to revamp its messaging and corporate identity, as well as develop collateral materials and a new website. And for Wiencek, an architectural firm, Vitamin is tasked with raising public awareness through messaging and copywriting services, as well as website development.

Hotel REITs pay dividends
Two Maryland-based hotel real estate investment trusts announced fourth-quarter dividends.

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda said it will pay a dividend of 12 cents per common share of beneficial interest on Jan. 14, 2011, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Dec. 31, 2010. The company, which owns eight hotels with 2,300 rooms in five states and the District of Columbia, said this is the first quarterly dividend it has paid since its launching in December 2009.

Also, Bethesda-based LaSalle Hotel Properties said it will pay a fourth-quarter dividend of 11 cents per common share of beneficial interest on Jan. 14 to shareholders of record on Dec. 31. LaSalle owns 35 hotels with 9,100 guest rooms in 10 states and Washington, D.C.

Residential greening audit underway
Standard Energy Solutions, a Rockville-based energy auditing firm and performance retrofitting contractor, said it will audit and retrofit 33 homes in District Heights, a community in Prince George’s County, and install solar panels on one of the homes.

The work will be paid for with $200,000 in federal Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, and residents receiving audits will be chosen based largely on financial need. The home that will receive solar panels will serve as a green home model to the rest of the community.

The solar installation will be completed by Rockville-based Standard Solar Inc.

Eco-friendly M&T Bank branch opens
M&T Bank opened a new, eco-friendly branch office in Rockville on Wednesday, launching what the company said would be its model for future new branch construction and renovation of existing branches.

Architectural features include a colonnade with high canopy, which is intended to reduce direct sunlight into the branch. Outdoor louver screens allow natural light to enter the branch’s full height glass walls, while minimizing direct sunlight and glare.

Inside, an intuitive light sensor system monitors sunlight levels and dims the artificial lighting in spaces with sufficient sunlight.

The branch’s overall design reduces energy usage by 25 percent and its plumbing design reduces water usage by 30 percent. Renewable energy credits have been purchased to supply power to the facility through sustainable sources.

The project was designed by the international design firm Pentagram, working with a Baltimore firm, Ammon Heisler Sachs Architects, and meets LEED standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Ross Technologies to relocate HQ
Ross Technologies Inc., a Columbia-based information technology firm, has hired Baltimore-based Nouveau Contemporary Goods and its interior design firm, Whitehead & Appel, to design and furnish a new, 11,000-square-foot headquarters at the UMBC BioPark in Catonsville.

Whitehead & Appel will consult on space planning and assist with the development and build-out of the Ross Technologies space. Whitehead & Appel will also design and furnish the firm’s conference facilities, employee and public reception areas and executive suites.

Ross Technologies intends to relocate its offices in June 2011. Nouveau and Whitehead and Appel are sister companies.

Eco-friendly rest stops unveiled
Maryland highway officials have unveiled exhibits at new eco-friendly rest stops along Interstate 70.

The exhibits unveiled Wednesday offer visitors travel information as well information on the region’s heritage, recreational and cultural resources. The South Mountain rest stops are designed to cut energy consumption and operating costs through efficient lighting, geothermal radiant floor heating, sensors to monitor water usage and a new wastewater treatment plant.

The facilities have been given a silver rating under the LEED system for new construction.

Saul Centers added to SmallCap 600
Saul Centers Inc. of Bethesda replaced Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in the Standard & Poor’s SmallCap 600 Index, S&P said in a statement Monday.

Saul Centers was to join the gauge after the close of trading on Friday, S&P said. Great Atlantic was to be removed after the market close on Tuesday.

Saul Centers is a real estate investment trust that invests in shopping centers. It has a market capitalization of $819 million.

Runway project funded
Frederick Municipal Airport officials said the airport received a state grant of more than $400,000 for runway expansion.

The grant will fund design and bid services associated with the demolition of structures and other work. The grant from the Maryland Aviation Administration will pay most of the projected cost of $415,444. The city and the county will split the rest, each paying about $5,200.

The Frederick airport handles mainly private aircraft, and is the second-busiest in Maryland in number of takeoffs and landings after Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

This Week in Leases

  • The Tower Cos., a Rockville-based real estate development company, announced that Unleashed by PETCO, a pet store concept introduced by California-based pet specialty retailer Petco, signed a 10-year lease for 5,550 square feet of retail space at the Aspen Hill Shopping Center in Silver Spring. Unleashed by PETCO offers high-quality pet products and food in a convenient, neighborhood setting, and is designed to foster connections between shoppers, their pets and the store’s knowledgeable staff. Andy Feldman of KLNB Retail Services represented the tenant in the Petco transaction. Jared Meier of StreetSense represented the owners, working with Chuck Wallach, director of leasing for The Tower Cos. The Aspen Hill Shopping Center houses more than 30 shops and restaurants, including Giant Foods, CVS, Panera Bread, Chipotle, Five Guys, Dress Barn, Verizon Go Wireless and others.
  • Cassidy Turley in Baltimore announced the lease of 25,600 square feet of space at 8965 Yellow Brick Road in Rosedale to Agrium Advanced Technologies. The company is a business unit of Agrium Inc., a Canadian company that is a major producer and seller of agricultural fertilizers and nutrients in both North and South America. Jarred Testa, Rick Latini, Craig Lewis and Mike Bosica, all of Cassidy Turley, represented both the tenant and the landlord, RREEF.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.