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Real Estate Weekly: Ex-Continental Realty exec launches real estate invesment firm

David M. Strouse, formerly the chief investment officer of Baltimore-based Continental Realty Corp., announced the formation of Birchwood Capital Partners, a multi-disciplined real estate investment and advisory firm.

The company, which will maintain corporate headquarters in Baltimore, supplemented with an office in Fort Myers, Fla., will focus on three primary areas within the real estate sector in the mid-Atlantic and southwest Florida areas: office, retail, industrial and multi-family development opportunities; the acquisition of investment projects in the $5 million to $100 million range, and serving as a financial intermediary.

At Continental Realty, Strouse participated in and completed more than 60 property acquisitions, 70 financings and 100 leasing transactions. He also sourced and executed more than $100 million in development projects with a total transactional value in excess of $750 million.

DDG the pick to design largest mall in China
Development Design Group Inc., a Baltimore-based planning, architecture, graphics and design firm, has been selected as planner and design architect for the retail centerpiece of the landmark Tianjin City Culture Center Development, soon to be the largest mall in China.

DDG is responsible for a 4 million-square-foot, seven-level retail component that will be part of an overall 9 million-square-foot commercial and cultural destination in Tianjin City, about 20 minutes from Beijing’s central business district.

DDG primarily works on projects abroad; this is one of several developments it has worked on or completed in China.

RREEF sells Curtis Bay building
RREEF, an investment unit of Deutsche Bank’s asset management operations, sold a 274,152-square-foot bulk distribution center in the Brandon Woods Business Park in Curtis Bay.

The building is entirely leased until September 2019 by the Commerce Corp., a lawn, garden and outdoor living specialty distributor. Jon Carpenter, Jay Wellschlager and Philip Iglehart of Cassidy Turley’s Capital Markets Group represented RREEF in the transaction, which represents the team’s 10th investment sale transaction for 2010.

Although financial details were not disclosed, in an earlier release the buyer, Industrial Income Trust, a Denver-based industrial real estate investment trust, said “the expected purchase price for the property” was approximately $16.2 million, exclusive of customary transfer taxes and settlement costs.

LaSalle picks Riggins for CFO post
Bruce A. Riggins has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer of LaSalle Hotel Properties, the Bethesda-based hotel real estate investment trust announced.

The appointment is effective on Jan. 24. Riggins is currently CFO of Interstate Hotels & Resorts.

Prior to joining that firm, he held a similar post at Innkeepers USA Trust, and has served in various financial roles at MeriStar Hospitality. Michael D. Barnello, president and CEO of LaSalle Hotel properties, praised Riggins’ “vast amount of financial experience within the hospitality industry, including leadership in capital markets activities and accounting functions.”

Bethesda REIT acquires D.C. office property
First Potomac Realty Trust of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on industrial and office properties in the Greater Washington metropolitan area, said it acquired 440 First Street NW in Washington, its fourth office building acquisition in D.C.

The 105,000-square-foot building was purchased for $15.3 million. It is situated on land subject to a land lease with a remaining term of 45 years.

First Potomac said it intends to purchase the fee interest in the land and expects to close that transaction shortly. The REIT said it will completely renovate the 28-year-old building and is considering expanding it to accommodate up to 30,000 square feet of rentable space.

Mahan Rykiel working to ‘green’ the Red Line
Mahan Rykiel Associates Inc., a Baltimore-based landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm, said it is working with the Maryland Transit Administration and several consulting partners to figure out how to incorporate green material as part of the proposed Red Line project in Baltimore.

The so-called “Green Tracks” program replaces the traditional stone base beneath the rails with turf or other low-growing plantings. Mahan Rykiel has been responsible for developing a series of possible alternatives that test and compare different plant materials, soil depths and composition, and planting methods.

The alternatives will be evaluated over a two-year period, and could lead to Baltimore having the first Green Tracks light rail system in the region.

Frederick developer files for Ch. 11
Mark Carroll LLC, a Frederick-based company picked to turn 0.39 acres of land at Frederick’s Carroll Creek Linear Park into a mixed-use development, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company listed $1.42 million in assets and $1.02 million in liabilities in its Jan. 4 filing in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland.

The largest creditor listed is Woodsboro Bank, which is owed $983,771 for a loan on the land. The property is located between East All Saints Street and South Carroll Street, behind the amphitheater in the park.

Coal ash landfill OK’d
Maryland environmental officials have approved a coal ash landfill with pollution controls, such as a plastic liner to keep contaminants from groundwater, to address concerns about power plant waste contaminating nearby areas.

Constellation Energy Group plans to dump 200,000 tons of ash on the 65-acre tract in Southeast Baltimore from three Baltimore-area coal-burning power plants.

The landfill is the first new disposal site for power plant waste to be approved since 2007, when it was discovered that wells in Gambrills were contaminated with waste from a nearby dump. Baltimore-based Constellation paid a fine and reached an out-of-court settlement with residents.

Report: Md. making slow ‘smart growth’ progress
Maryland is making only slow and barely discernible progress toward smarter growth, a new report from the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth concludes.

The study, funded by the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation, finds that in several smart growth performance measures, including multifamily housing construction, per capita vehicle miles traveled, housing affordability and compact development, Maryland has largely tracked national trends, and has not measurably gained ground over the last decade.

The report, “Indicators of Smart Growth in Maryland,” is available online at http://smartgrowth.umd.edu.

This Week in Leases

  • Greenberg Gibbons, a Baltimore retail development company, announced that The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille will open at Hunt Valley Towne Centre this spring.  The new, 12,000-square-foot restaurant will be the company’s 25th location. The Greene Turtle, a casual restaurant and sports bar, will feature a flat-screen TV in every booth, as well as a substantial menu of American pub-style food. The Greene Turtle will join existing tenants Wegmans Food Market, Best Buy and more than 50 others stores and restaurants in Hunt Valley Towne Centre’s open air “main street” environment.

Daily Record Reporter Ben Mook and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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