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Real Estate Weekly – 9/16/11: Solar leasing for homes announced

Solar leasing for homes announced

Constellation Energy Group of Baltimore unveiled a solar panel leasing program for residential customers in Maryland and five other states. Constellation is offering a choice of a little-to-no money down or prepaid lease for a 20-year term. In Maryland, Constellation will offer residential solar sales and leasing through its BGE HOME subsidiary. Astrum Solar, an Annapolis Junction-based firm in which Constellation is an investor, is providing sales, installation and service support for Constellation’s residential solar leasing program.

Food-safety lab to open at UMCP

The University of Maryland said a new laboratory where foreign food workers and scientists will be trained in U.S. food-safety standards was dedicated on Sept. 15 at the College Park campus. Based at the university’s Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the approximately $4 million, 4,700-square-foot laboratory — the first of its kind in the United States — was built by the Massachusetts-based Waters Corp., a manufacturer of equipment to detect chemical contaminants. Foreign food laboratory workers will learn U.S-recommended microbiological and chemical analysis methods directly from regulators at the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.

After six years of effort, success

The Hogan Cos., an Annapolis-based land brokerage company, said it completed a lengthy sale of two properties in Severn. The Handschuh and Happel properties on Quarterfield Road have been combined with a smaller tract to form an approximately 70-acre parcel, from which Koch Associates, an Annapolis-based development and home building company, will break out 77 single-family lots. The project will become a new home community known as Brookwood Run. Timothy Hogan, executive vice president of the Hogan Cos., worked with Koch over a six-year period to assemble the land and bring the transactions to settlement.

Bethesda office building acquired

Brookfield Office Properties Inc. of Toronto announced it has acquired Three Bethesda Metro Center, a 17-story, 368,400-square-foot, Class A office building, from The Meridian Group for $150.1 million. Located at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Old Georgetown Road, adjacent to the Bethesda Metro station and the Hyatt Regency hotel, the building is 93 percent leased. It features a 16-story interior atrium, an elegant marble lobby and a 1,300-space underground parking garage. Three Bethesda Metro Center is the fourth property owned by Brookfield in the Bethesda submarket and the 30th in the Washington metro area.

Baltimore-area home sales recovering

Pending home sales in the Baltimore metropolitan area housing market in August made their best showing in five years, due to affordable prices and record low interest rates, Rockville-based RealEstate Business Intelligence LLC reported. The 2,365 pending sales in August, although 1.7 percent below the 2,407 total seen in the prior month, was well below the 6.9 percent average month-over-month decline of the past five years. The median sale price of $235,000 for August was 4.4 percent higher than the $225,000 median seen in July; however, it was 4.1 percent below the $245,000 median sale price set in August 2010.

Prison solar farm plan advances

(AP) A Maryland Public Service Commission judge gave tentative approval to a large solar energy project on the grounds of a state prison complex near Hagerstown. Public Utility Law Judge Dennis Sober issued a proposed order last week to grant Easton-based Maryland Solar LLC a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The order becomes final Oct. 8 unless it is appealed. The developer wants to place 100,000 solar panels on 250 acres near the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution. The project would generate up to 20 megawatts of electricity, making it Maryland’s largest solar array. Supporters say it would create about 125 construction jobs.

Waldorf hotel is ‘charged up’

SemaConnect Inc. of Annapolis has installed its ChargePro electric vehicle charging stations at the Hilton Garden Inn Waldorf. The 130-room hotel, owned by Shamin Hotels of Richmond, Va., is the first Hilton Garden Inn property to have the stations installed. The installation is part of the Maryland Energy Administration’s initiative, using $500,000 provided by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program, to construct 65 charging stations throughout the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. The Hilton Garden Inn Waldorf is among the first sites in the state to provide electric-powered vehicle owners with the opportunity to recharge their vehicles safely and economically.

Heavy equipment auction scheduled

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, a Canada-based industrial auctioneer, will conduct a one-owner, complete dispersal auction for Emory N. Stull Inc. in Sykesville on Tuesday. Owner Emory Stull is retiring after 45 years in the land clearing business and selling 80 heavy equipment items and trucks at the unreserved public auction. All of the equipment will be sold to the highest bidders on auction day, regardless of price. Among the items being sold are wheel loaders, hydraulic excavators, crawler loaders, log and chip trailers, utility trucks and truck tractors. For directions to the sale and auction rules, go to www.rbauction.com.

Chesapeake Systems celebrates new headquarters in historic church

Chesapeake Systems, a provider of Macintosh computer sales and service, will hold a celebration on Wednesday marking the renovation of the lightning-and fire-damaged former Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in Hampden as the headquarters of the company. The church building and steeple were extensively damaged by lightning and fire in 2008. In 2010, Chesapeake Systems, then based at Hampden’s Mill Centre, received zoning approval and completed purchase of the church, then undertook a restoration of the city landmark. The 9,000-square-foot building gives Chesapeake Systems additional space and new opportunities to expand services, support and training for its regional, national, and international customers, which range from college students and professional graphic designers to major universities, nonprofits, government agencies, and the local and national video and broadcast industry.

St. Paul School’s Fisher Hall awarded LEED Gold certification

Fisher Hall, a new building at St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The building, which houses the Upper School’s library and student commons, is named for David W. Fisher, an alumnus and trustee of the school, who died suddenly on July 31. LEED is the nation’s pre-eminent program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance, environmentally sensitive, green buildings. According to the USGBC, fewer than 5,000 buildings worldwide have received Gold level or higher certification. Of the 111 Gold-certified buildings in Maryland, only 11 are part of a primary or secondary school.

Oriental rug merchant changing locations Parvizian Fine Rugs, a Chevy Chase landmark for four decades, is downsizing from the 10,000-square-foot Wisconsin Avenue space it occupies to a 4,000-square-foot showroom formerly occupied by Bray and Scarff, a home appliance store. The new store is a few blocks north at 7924 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda. Company President Abdi Parvizian signed a five-year lease with JBG Rosenfield and plans to be open there in January.

MRIS launches text alerts for real estate professionals

MRIS, a provider of real estate information in the mid-Atlantic region, has launched MRIS Text Alerts to provide real estate professionals with real-time updates on the status of the local multiple listing service. Text alerts keep MRIS customers informed on system information, enhancement schedules, planned maintenance announcements and temporary system interruptions, without their having to open an email or check a message board. “Our industry is very mobile — showing properties, holding open houses, meeting with sellers,” said Jon Coile, CEO of Champion Realty Inc., a part of HomeServices of America Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. “MRIS knows our two most important tools are our cell phones and the housing database, the MLS. Getting key system updates by text is a great resource to keep us effective and efficient.”

Manekin completes new HQ for Rosedale Federal S&L

Manekin Construction LLC announced the completion of a new headquarters for Rosedale Federal Savings & Loan Association in Perry Hall. The 13,634-square-foot building, located at 9616 Belair Road, was designed by GVA Architects to complement Rosedale Federal’s neighboring Perry Hall branch by creating a physical and programmatic connection. Among its features are a patterned shingle roof, complementary red brick, double-hung windows with traditional frames and white wood trim on the exterior, and traditional dark wood trim, a two-story lobby with atrium space inside. The building also has a glass-walled community room that groups and organizations can use at no cost for meetings. Designed and built to be eco-friendly, the building is slated to receive LEED Gold certification.

COPT announces top management shift as CEO Griffin to retire in March

Randall M. Griffin, CEO of Corporate Office Properties Trust, will retire at the end of March, the Columbia-based office real estate investment trust announced on Friday. He will be succeeded by Roger A. Waesche Jr., COPT’s president and chief operating officer, effective April 1. Griffin will continue as a member of COPT’s board following his retirement as CEO. Also, effective Sept. 29, Stephen E. Budorick will join COPT as executive vice president and COO. Budorick joins COPT from Chicago-based Callahan Capital Partners LLC, where he has served since 2006 as executive vice president of asset management. His responsibilities at COPT will include leasing, asset management, property management and government services. COPT is a is a specialty office REIT that focuses primarily on properties occupied by U.S. government and defense information technology sectors and data centers serving those sectors.

‘Extreme Makeover’ coming to Maryland’s Eastern Shore

The Fusion Cos., an Annapolis-based home building company, has paired up with the reality TV show “ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to do a building project for a Maryland family. Fusion’s residential new construction division, consisting of Fusion Custom Homes and Element Homes, will serve as the lead builder for the 11th episode of the ninth season of the TV show. The project will take place from Sept. 28 through Oct. 6 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, according to an announcement. Further details regarding the location and the family will not be released until Sept. 28, when the selected family is notified.

Cardin to introduce bill to aid roofing industry

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s office announced that the Maryland Democrat will unveil legislation Monday to change the tax code to help the struggling construction industry, create up to 40,000 new jobs nationwide and increase energy efficiency. Cardin will discuss the bipartisan bill that he is sponsoring during a visit to Kalkreuth Roofing Co. in Frederick. According to the announcement, “the bipartisan bill will … [remove] obstacles in the tax code that hinder the upgrading and modernization of roofs by significantly reducing the depreciation schedule for commercial roof retrofits.” The measure would change the 39-year depreciation in the tax code for new commercial roofs to a 20-year depreciation schedule for commercial roof retrofits. The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is supported by numerous construction industry unions and trade associations, according to Cardin’s announcement.

Hogan Cos. sells another Anne Arundel property

The Hogan Cos., an Annapolis-based land brokerage firm, announced the recently completed sale of a 4.87-acre parcel of land off Brock Bridge Road in Laurel to Koch Homes. Known as the Schildt property, the parcel is part of a larger, 17-acre, $1.55 million assemblage by Hogan over a four-year period. Koch Homes, which purchased the adjacent 12.14-acre tract with the assistance of the Hogan Cos. in 2006, expects to submit a sketch plan to the county for a townhome community within the next few months. Hogan Vice Presidents Kevin Setzer and Tim Hogan worked as buyer-brokers for Koch Homes to locate, assemble and complete the transaction.

Tax credits recommended for owners of historic MoCo homes

Owners of the more than 3,000 structures in Montgomery County that are designated as historic, and who maintain and rehabilitate the structures, are eligible for tax credits that reward them for preserving a slice of county history. The Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission announced it has recommended 59 applications for county tax credits worth some $98,000. The tax credits will go toward work completed in 2010. The HPC is staffed by historic preservation planners at the county Planning Department, who reviewed applications and assisted applicants. The applications are up from 46 last year. Work ranged from a total rehabilitation to painting and roof replacements. The renovation projects represent investments of about $1 million. According to the historic preservation commission, between 1996 and 2009, Montgomery County property owners received $6.3 million in Maryland rehabilitation tax credits and invested more than $30 million in the renovation of historic properties across the county.

Maryland receives more than $4 million in federal funds for housing counseling

NeighborWorks America, the administrator of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program, said more than 1.1 million homeowners across the nation have received foreclosure counseling through the program. Maryland ranked seventh in the nation in the number of clients receiving legal services and ninth in the number of clients receiving housing counseling with NFMC resources. Maryland has received $4.1 million in NFMC funding for housing counseling and legal services since 2008, including an additional $350,000 announced recently. As of June 30, more than 1,168,000 homeowners in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories have received foreclosure counseling as a result of NFMC Program funding, according to the program’s Congressional Report.

PERSONNEL

F. Joseph Bradley III has joined MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services’ Lutherville office as vice president. Bradley has more than 15 years of landlord and tenant representation experience, specializing in the leasing and sale of commercial office and industrial buildings in Maryland. At MacKenzie, he will continue to focus on the sale and leasing of commercial office and industrial space in Baltimore and Harford counties.

Helen E. Lanes

Helen E. Lanes has joined Hord Coplan Macht as a principal, the Baltimore architecture, planning, landscape architecture and interior design firm announced. Lanes will head the firm’s Interiors Studio, with an emphasis on health care interior design. Lanes most recently worked at Perkins + Wills’ Washington office. With more than 20 years of design experience, she has worked on projects at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Howard County General Hospital, Inova Health System, Adventist Health, St. Agnes Hospital, Prince William Health System and the National Institutes of Health, among others.

Jennifer Sychuk

Jennifer Sychuk has been promoted to assistant vice president, finance/asset management at St. John Properties Inc. Sychuck has worked for the Baltimore-based real estate development and management company since 2002. In her new position, Sychuk’s responsibilities include assisting with project financing for the firm’s commercial office, R&D/flex, retail and warehouse real estate portfolio. She also is responsible for financial analysis and valuation activities for the company’s assets, including property acquisitions and sales. Sychuk earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Villanova University and a master of science degree in real estate from the Edward St. John Real Estate Program at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. She is currently enrolled in a Graduate Accounting Certificate program at the University of Baltimore.

St. John Properties, a Baltimore-based real estate development and management company, has promoted two executives: Lori Rice, who has worked for the company since 2000, is now vice president and controller. She will continue to oversee accounting and financial reporting of the firm’s commercial office, R&D/flex, retail and warehouse real estate portfolio. Rice has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Mount St. Mary’s College and is a certified public accountant. Jacqueline Pfeiler has been promoted to vice president, finance. Pfeiler, who has worked for the company since 1991, will continue to oversee the firm’s financing activities, She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Amanda Karfakis, president and CEO of public relations and marketing agency Vitamin of Baltimore, has been appointed president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services’ Maryland chapter. The nonprofit organization is a meeting place and provider of resources for the architecture, engineering and construction community. Karfakis has been associated with SMPS Maryland since 2005, and has served as co-chair of the organization’s program committee, as well as president-elect. As president, she will oversee the chapter while continuing to ensure the organization’s mission to advocate for, educate and connect leaders in the building industry. Karfakis’ immediate predecessor is Joann Petillo, senior vice president at Schnabel Engineering.

Brendan Gill

Brendan Gill, vice president of MacKenzie Management Co. LLC, has been selected to receive a national 2011 Developing Leaders Award from NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. Gill, a member of NAIOP Maryland, the local chapter of the national trade association, is one of 15 commercial real estate executives — chosen from professionals aged 35 years and younger across the country — to receive the recognition. Gill will be honored at a ceremony at NAIOP’s annual meeting in October in Scottsdale, Ariz. Gill chairs NAIOP-Maryland’s Community Service Committee, where he organizes community service projects for NAIOP Maryland members. He also is a member of NAIOP Maryland’s Legislative Committee and the chapter’s board.

Jeffrey Fischer has joined Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust as senior leasing associated. Fischer, who has a dozen years of experience as both a leasing agent and tenant representative, will work at Federal Realty’s northeast region office in Wynnewood, Pa., focusing on FRIT’s properties in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Fischer most recently served as senior director of leasing for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, where he was the primary leasing agent for multiple retail formats. Other work experience includes senior leasing representative for Madison Marquette and senior leasing associate for The Arden Group Inc. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Pennsylvania State University and is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and Leadership Philadelphia.

Todd Eckert has returned to his original broker, Hyatt Commercial, of Annapolis, as a senior sales and leasing associate after spending two years with Innovative Properties. Eckert specializes in commercial office, retail and industrial properties throughout the Baltimore/Annapolis region.

LEASES

The International Rescue Committee signed a 10-year lease for 12,183 square feet of office space at 8719 Colesville Road in Silver Spring, it was announced by the property owner, Douglas Development Corp. of Washington, D.C. The nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to providing aid to people during humanitarian crises around the world, will occupy its new space in January. Andy Georgelakos, principal and managing partner at KLNB LLC represented the tenant during the lease signing.

J. Shoes Inc., a shoe designer, leased 2,010 square feet of office space at 10715 Red Run Blvd. in Owings Mills, it was announced by the building owner, Merritt Properties LLC. Merritt’s leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the parties in the transaction.