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Real Estate Weekly: Introducing MRIS TV, an online local real estate information service

Manekin completes Bowie City Hall construction

Manekin Construction LLC of Columbia has completed construction of a new headquarters for the City of Bowie.

The city government recently relocated to the new three-story, 80,000-square-foot facility at 15901 Excalibur Road, near the Bowie Town Center. Since 1978, it had occupied a 39,500-square-foot facility on Kenhill Drive. Space at the former City Hall location had been at a premium for some time, particularly since the creation of the Bowie Police Department in 2006.

Calverton-based Grimm + Parker Architects designed the building. Manekin Construction, which has built several municipal facilities in the region, was the general contractor, and ARCADIS provided overall project management support. Construction commenced in September 2009, and the total cost of the project is estimated at $22.6 million.

Located on a six-acre site with parking for 218 vehicles, the new City Hall comprises a structural steel frame with high-density block/brick veneer and glass exterior curtain wall system. With many green features, including a green roof, the facility is designed to achieve LEED Silver Rating.

“The new building is larger and more efficient, and it is the first time in Bowie’s history that the city has occupied space designed for the purpose of running the government,” said Assistant City Manager John Fitzwater. “It also was designed to accommodate future expansion of city services over the next 50 to 75 years.”

Introducing MRIS TV, an online local real estate information service

MRIS, which stands for Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., a large, Rockville-based multiple listing service and regional data information company, has launched MRISTV.com, a first-of-its-kind website that features hyper-local real estate information, interviews with local experts and cutting-edge housing trends.

Original programming focuses on the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro regions, delivering relevant information, on-demand.

Among original programming are:

  • Distinctive Digs, which showcases unique homes from mega-mansions to quirky, one-of-a-kind apartments in the MRIS region. Each week, viewers will enter the front doors to tour the metropolitan areas’ most intriguing homes.
  • Real Estate IQ, which features local housing market experts available to answer the most pressing real estate questions. Viewers will receive tips and trend insights each week to help them along their home search and make informed buying decisions.

In addition to custom programming featuring local homes and tips, such as staging a home for sale or prepping for an inspection, MRIS TV will connect interested homebuyers to www.HomesDatabase.com, where they can find a Distinctive Dig of their own.

“MRIS TV is all real estate, all the time. It’s local — it’s our communities. It will bring consumers and real estate professionals up close and personal with what’s new and what’s next within their neighborhoods,” said John L. Heithaus, MRIS’ chief marketing officer. “Viewers will enjoy exploring unique area houses, and receive insider real estate tips with a click of a mouse.”

The Fitzgerald honored with prestigious ULI award

The Fitzgerald, a mixed-use residential and retail development in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon cultural district, has been named as one of 10 winners in the Urban Land Institute’s Awards for Excellence: The Americas competition.

More than 140 entries throughout North and South America competed for the award, which is widely recognized as the land use industry’s most prestigious recognition. The Fitzgerald, built on 4.6 acres of land owned by the University of Baltimore, is comprised of 275 luxury apartments, 24,000 square feet of street-level retail and a 1,245-space public parking garage,.

It is a joint venture of The Bozzuto Group of Greenbelt, Washington, D.C.-based Gould Property Co., the New York State Teachers Retirement System and former Baltimore Raven Michael McCrary.

Eatery choices expand

Darden Restaurants Inc. of Orlando, Fla., the largest casual-dining operator (in terms of revenue) in the U.S., said three of its most popular brands — Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse — have opened in the Arundel Mills mall in Hanover.

The three restaurants combined bring more than 350 new jobs to the area. The new restaurants are part of Darden’s Sustainable Restaurant Design initiative, which incorporates sustainable design elements for all new restaurants and, when possible, restaurant remodels.

Darden said it plans to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for all three restaurants.

Liquid terminal to be acquired

Blackwater Midstream Corp., a Westwego, La.-based operator of bulk liquid storage terminals, said it has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 6-acre liquid terminal facility in Salisbury for $1.6 million.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2011. The site is located along the Wicomico River, and is accessible by inland barges and tank trucks. The Blackwater announcement did not identify the current owner of the property.

COPT completes offering

Corporate Office Properties Trust of Columbia, a real estate investment trust, said Wednesday that it completed its public offering of 4.6 million newly issued common shares.

The result reflects the full exercise by underwriters of their option to purchase 600,000 shares to cover over-allotments. The offering generated net proceeds, before offering expenses, of approximately $145.7 million. The company plans to use the net proceeds to pay down revolving debt and for general corporate purposes.

COPT owns office and data center properties typically concentrated in large office parks located adjacent to government agencies or contractors.

Grape growers blossom

There are now 150 vineyards and 46 wineries on 601 acres in Maryland, according to the 2010 Maryland Vineyard Survey released by the Maryland Grape Growers Association.

This represents a 19 percent increase in vines and a 12 percent increase in acres since the survey was last conducted in 2008. Although there is at least one vineyard in every Maryland county, the majority of grape vines are grown in Frederick County (24 percent), followed by Carroll (12 percent), Baltimore (11 percent) and Queen Anne’s counties (10 percent).

The top six varieties remain unchanged since 2006: cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet franc, chambourcin and vidal blanc.

Donors ‘Answer the Call’

Calvert Hall College High School said 319 donors have committed more than $7.8 million during a “silent phase” of the school’s $10 million capital campaign.

The campaign, with the theme of “Answer the Call,” is raising funds to pay for renovations to Keelty Hall, the Towson-based Catholic high school’s main administrative and academic building, and to increase the endowment for tuition assistance and faculty development.

The campaign’s co-chairmen, both Calvert Hall graduates, are Francis X. Kelly III, CEO of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group Inc., and Dr. Thomas B. Smyth Sr., partner/vice president of Chesapeake Urology Associates.

Personnel

Hord Coplan Macht of Baltimore, a full-service architecture and landscape architecture firm, announced the addition of five designers. They are: Jeremy Friend, a graphic designer; Scott Geczi and Sean Kefferstan, both joining the firm’s housing studio; and Kacey Huntington and Sangjae Lee, both joining HCM’s health care studio.

Continental Realty Corp., a Baltimore-based commercial and retail development company, has hired Bill Inskeep as project manager. He was formerly a construction consultant for T. Rowe Price Inc. in Owings Mills. Inskeep’s duties at CRC include overseeing project management functions involving the construction of new real estate properties, as well as renovation and improvement activities and tenant build-outs. Inskeep has more than 35 years of experience in construction project management.

Leases

Merritt Properties LLC announced three lease agreements that were signed in May:

  • Hergenroeder Financial Advisors Inc. has leased 2,700 square feet of office space at Timonium Two, 1954 Greenspring Drive, in Timonium. Lizzy Sweeney of Cassidy Turley negotiated the lease on behalf of Hergenroeder.
  • Maurice Electrical Supply Co. leased 8,166 square feet of flex-warehouse space at 1946 Greenspring Drive in Timonium. Todd Hughes of Jones Lang LaSalle represented the tenant.
  • The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults Inc. leased 3,170 square feet of office space at The Foundry, 921 Fort Ave., in Baltimore City. Bruce Matthai of Cassidy Turley represented the cancer fund in the lease negotiations.

In all three deals, Merritt Properties was represented by its own team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering , Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs.

Blue & Obrecht Realty LLC announced that Lockheed Martin Corp., of Bethesda, renewed its lease of 41,580 square feet of office space in the Michael Building at 1506 Woodlawn Drive in Woodlawn. Richard F. Blue Jr., Paul F. Obrecht III and Krager D. Sanders of Blue & Obrecht Realty represented the landlord, Colony Realty Partners LLC. Stuart Rienhoff of Jones Lang LaSalle represented Lockheed Martin.

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