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Real Estate Weekly – 8/5/11: Road safety project funded in Howard County

New fire station underway in Glen Burnie

The Mullan Contracting Co. of Lutherville has been awarded a contract to construct the new Marley Fire Station, an 11,000-square-foot structure located near the intersection of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and McGuirk Avenue in Glen Burnie. Site work has commenced on the $2.8 million project, of which funding for $1.8 million will be provided by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program. Completion is scheduled for spring 2012. The new fire station replaces a facility that opened in 1943. The older building has serious repair issues, including an infestation by termites. Wheeler Goodman Masek served as the architect, Bay Engineering is the civil engineering firm, and Skarda and Associates Inc. is the structural engineer for the new facility.

Road safety project funded in Howard Co.

A road construction project in Howard County to improve safety and capacity along Md. Route 32 has been granted funding from the federal government, county officials announced.

The Maryland State Highway Administration has received $709,000 from the Federal Highway Administration in support of MD 32 Wellworth Way Access Management Improvements.

Private driveways that now have access to MD 32 will be relocated to Wellworth Way, a private road, and relocation will be facilitated through the purchase of right-of-way to allow alternative access. By eliminating driveway access, the goal of the project is to lessen the risk of serious accidents along MD 32.

Federal and state funds will be used to complete design work and right of way acquisition. Right of way acquisition is scheduled to begin after the design work is complete and is estimated will take from eight to 12 months.

“Securing these federal dollars was a regional effort, and I want to thank the Baltimore Metropolitan Transportation Board for their leadership in helping us to prepare for continued growth along our roadways while prioritizing safety.” County Executive Ken Ulman said in a release.

Katzen to open office in Rosedale

Katzen Eye Group of Lutherville, the largest private eye care practice in Maryland, said it will open an office in Rosedale, its third in the Baltimore area, next month. Dr. Amy A. Zimmerman, an opthalmologist, and Dr. Lori A. Sportelli, an optometrist, will begin seeing patients on Sept. 6 at the 2,400-square-foot office at 8201 Philadelphia Road. The office will provide general ophthalmology, retina, glaucoma, oculoplastics and pediatric ophthalmology services as well as primary and optical care. Katzen Eye Group’s other offices are located in Lutherville and at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.

St. John sells Va. land parcel for $38M to Seattle company

St. John Properties Inc., a Baltimore-based real estate development and management company, announced the sale for $17 million of a 38-acre land parcel within Ashburn Technology Park in Ashburn, Va., to Seattle-based Sabey Data Center Properties.

Sabey, the largest privately owned data center owner, operator and developer on the West Coast, intends to commence construction on a three-building, 490,000-square-foot data center in late summer.

Under terms of the sale, Sabey Data Center Properties is providing a 3-acre parcel for a substation being constructed by Dominion Virginia Power, which will serve Sabey’s intended use and provide additional electrical resources to the Ashburn Technology Park and other local properties. The company intends to attract tenants to the data center from the government, social media and health care sectors, as well as content and cloud service providers.

Ashburn Technology Park is an 84-acre business community located near Washington Dulles International Airport that, when completed, will offer more than 910,000 square feet of research and development/office space. Presently there are six R&D/office buildings containing more than 320,000 square feet of space.

COPT’s FFO sinks

Corporate Office Properties Trust of Columbia said second-quarter funds from operations dropped sharply while revenue rose. FFO — a key measure of a real estate investment trust’s financial performance —totaled $6 million, or 2 cents per diluted share, versus $38.9 million, or 53 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Revenue was $146.6 million versus $132.8 million in the prior-year quarter. The FFO slippage was due primarily to a $44.6 million impairment charge related to COPT’s realigning its property portfolio. Absent the impairment charge, FFO was $46.1 million, or 57 cents per diluted share, versus $39.1 million, or 54 cents per share, in the 2010 quarter.

Marriott talks Turkey

Marriott International Inc. of Bethesda, the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, said its JW Marriott luxury brand has opened its first hotels in Turkey and North India. The 24-story, 413-room JW Marriott Ankara boasts 48,975 square feet of meeting space, a spa and fitness center, two restaurants, a lounge/terrace on the hotel’s 22nd floor and a sports bar. The five-star JW Marriott Chandigarh offers 160 guest rooms, five suites, three restaurants and a pastry shop, as well as a spa and fitness facility. JW Marriott is planning nine additional properties by year-end, for a total of 63 hotels and resorts in 26 countries.

Pebblebrook gets bigger

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda, a lodging real estate investment trust, said it completed the previously announced acquisition of a 49 percent interest in a joint venture that owns six upper upscale hotels in Manhattan, valued at $910 million. The agreement calls for Pebblebrook to pay $153.6 million for its minority interest. The other partner, Denihan Hospitality Group, will continue to manage the properties. The hotels — Affinia Manhattan, Affinia Shelburne, Affinia Dumont, Affinia 50, Affinia Gardens and The Benjamin – comprise 1,640 guest rooms, which will be increased to 1,730 guest rooms this fall following completion of the Affinia Manhattan renovation.

Separately, Pebblebrook reported second-quarter funds from operations of $9.4 million, or 18 cents per diluted share, versus negative FFO of $3.6 million, or a loss of 18 cents per share, for the same period in 2010. Revenue was $73.1 million this year versus $2.2 million for the 2010 period (Pebblebrook was formed in December 2009). The company cited a 6.6 percent increase in revenue per available room and an 8.7 percent increase in average daily room rate — to $146.97 and $189.29, respectively — as among reasons for its strong gains.

Choice’s profit up a bit

Choice Hotels International Inc.’s profit edged up 2 percent in the second quarter as higher royalty fees helped boost revenue for the hotel operator. The Silver Spring-based company, which franchises Comfort Inn, Clarion and other hotel brands, reported second-quarter net income of $27.6 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, versus $27 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, for the year-ago period. Total revenue climbed 10 percent to $165.3 million, from $149.8 million in 2010’s second quarter. Analysts’ consensus forecast called for the company to earn 45 cents a share on $158.2 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

New bay alliance head

The Annapolis-based Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay named Albert H. Todd as its new executive director, effective Sept. 1. Todd has an extensive professional history in bay watershed issues and solutions. Most recently he was the Chesapeake Bay Team Leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Markets, and also assistant director for Ecosystem Services and Markets at the U.S. Forest Service. He has also worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on policies and strategies that support the use of water quality trading and offset programs to meet the targets of the bay’s “pollution diet.”

Marshall spreads out

Marshall Hotels & Resorts Inc. of Salisbury, a hotel management company specializing in the mid-sized hotel market, said it has signed contracts with hotels in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The contracts represent Marshall’s entry into the Caribbean region. In the Virgin Islands, Marshall will manage the 160-room Windward Passage Hotel in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. In Puerto Rico, the company will provide consulting services related to the conversion of the former Four Points by Sheraton to the 107-room Wyndham Garden at Palmas del Mar in Humacao.

Live Baltimore job opens

The Board of Directors of Live Baltimore said it will look for a new CEO following the resignation announcement by Executive Director Anna Custer-Singh, who has led the residential marketing organization since March 2007. The announcement did not give the reason for Custer-Singh’s departure, but said she will leave the post on Sept. 30. The board said it has formed a search committee to seek a replacement, and is accepting resumes and cover letters. For information, go to www.livebaltimore.com/about/employment.

CLT boosts earnings

Chesapeake Lodging Trust, an Annapolis-based lodging real estate investment trust, reported second-quarter funds from operations of $5.7 million, or 18 cents per diluted share, versus FFO of $2.1 million, or 23 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. (The reason for the lower earnings per share was that the number of outstanding shares more than tripled, to 31.8 million shares in this year’s quarter versus 9.1 million last year.) Revenue was $40.3 million in second-quarter 2011 versus $11.8 million a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters on average predicted revenue of $39.4 million for the 2011 period.

PERSONNEL

The Sopher Group P.A., a Baltimore law firm specializing in real estate and business transactions, has selected Kathleen C. “KC” Gibison as managing director. Gibison joined the Sopher Group’s predecessor, Jerry Sopher P.A., in 2002 as an associate. In her new role, she will devise and execute strategies focused on new business development and supervise the activities of attorneys and support staff for The Sopher Group, Strata Law LLC and Continental Exchange Inc. In addition, she will continue counseling clients in sophisticated real estate transactions, on matters including contract negotiation, selection of business entities, choice of financing and use of 1031 tax-deferred exchanges. Gibison earned a B.S. degree in finance from Towson University and a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Southern Management Corp. named Jeff Makhlouf general manager of The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, the hospitality component of The Town Center at Arundel Preserve. Makhlouf was formerly the general manager for the Hilton Garden Inn in Northern Virginia. In his new position, Makhlouf will oversee the day-to-day operations of the 150-room hotel in western Anne Arundel County, which will open on Tuesday. His responsibilities include managing the marketing and sales staff, the food and beverage operations that service more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space, and other complementary divisions of the project, such as property maintenance, housekeeping and related administrative functions. Makhlouf has more than 15 years of experience in hospitality management, including positions at Best Western Georgetown and the Intercontinental Hotels Group.

The Maryland chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America elected Stella Miller, president and owner of Stella May Contracting Co. of Edgewood, as chairman of the board. Miller’s term began on July 1 and will end on June 30, 2013. Miller has worked in the construction field since 1974, starting as office manager and controller for a California-based home builder who built the first condominiums in Harford County. She formed Stella May Contracting in 1995. The company has been certified as both a Minority Business Enterprise and a Woman-Owned Small Business by the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Delaware Department of Transportation, and surrounding counties and local municipalities. It has also been awarded an 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business certification by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Melvin C. “Chuck” Beall Jr., a licensed Professional Engineer in Maryland and Delaware, has joined the firm of Daft McCune Walker Inc. of Towson, a multidisciplinary land development/design consulting firm, as director of government services. In the position, Beall will work closely with DMW’s managing director, Dane Bauer, to oversee several of the firm’s business development initiatives. Beall also is responsible for capitalizing on the firm’s recent Women’s Business Enterprise status within the government sector. Beall has more than 30 years of experience in the engineering profession. Most recently he was director of planning and growth management for Charles County government.

Garry Jakoby has joined Sperry Van Ness – Miller as senior advisor of the firm’s new satellite office in Annapolis. Jakoby specializes in the sale of investment property, and retail, office and tenant/landlord representation. He also serves as president of Sperry Van Ness’ Region 10 Multifamily Brokers Council. Jakoby most recently was a commercial associate for Re/Max; in addition to being a commercial real estate developer he has held account and team management positions for Sun Microsystems/Oracle. Sperry Van Ness – Miller Commercial Real Estate is based in Salisbury and also has three offices in Delaware.

LEASES

Cushman & Wakefield, one of the country’s largest commercial real estate services firms, said it was picked by Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. as the leasing and management agent for a 1.5 million-square-foot office portfolio in Maryland. The portfolio consists of Columbia Corporate Center, a seven-building office complex in Columbia Town Center, totaling 876,475 square feet; Harborplace Tower, a 261,780-square-foot, Class A office building overlooking the Inner Harbor and adjacent to Harborplace and The Gallery; and Owings Mills Corporate Center, two buildings in close proximity to the Owings Mills Mall containing 330,736 square feet.

C&W Vice Chairman Jonathan Serko and Executive Vice President Barry Zeller at the firm’s New York headquarters will oversee the leasing efforts for the office properties in all three locations, and property management for the Columbia and Owings Mills properties. Team members for Columbia Corporate Center are C&W Senior Director Hayes Merkert and directors Danielle Schline and Karen Cherry. For both Harborplace Tower and Owings Mills Corporate Center, the C&W team consists of Senior Director Tim Jackson and Associate Director Kyle Durkee.

Cimino’s Office Systems, a family owned and operated furniture installation company, has leased 25,600 square feet of office and warehouse space at 1405 Tangier Road in White Marsh, it was announced by the Baltimore office of commercial real estate services provider Cassidy Turley. Cimino’s Office Systems and its sister company, Cimino’s Office Furniture Sales, both serve the Interstate 95 corridor from Delaware to Virginia, including Baltimore and Washington. Cassidy Turley’s Jarred Testa and Michael Walsh represented Cimino’s Office Systems, while Ed Brady and Jim Lighthizer of Chesapeake Real Estate Group represented the landlord, Prudential Real Estate Investors.

Mack-Cali Realty Corp., an office/industrial real estate investment trust based in Edison, N.J., announced it leased a 14,159 square feet of office space at 6305 Ivy Lane in Greenbelt for tenant Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Towson. The 112,022-square-foot office building in the Capital Office Park complex is 88.8 percent leased. Mack-Cali was represented in-house by its director of leasing, Ken Smondrowski.

Merritt Properties LLC of Woodlawn said it leased 1051 square feet of office space at 729 E. Pratt St. in Baltimore to The Newton Group, a provider of strategic products and services. Merritt’s in-house team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the landlord in the lease negotiations.

MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC of Lutherville reported the following lease transactions:

* Complete Expo Trade Shows Inc. leased 5,000 square feet of industrial space at 1020 Batavia Farms Road in Rosedale, Baltimore County, from Gorman Development Co. MacKenzie’s Frederick W. Hearn and Daniel A. Hudak negotiated the deal.

* Lemek LLC leased 5,000 square feet of retail space at Boulevard @ Box Hill in Bel Air, Harford County. Thomas L. Fidler Jr. and John R. Schultz were the listing agents for MacKenzie.

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