Real Estate Weekly – 9/30/11: Choice’s Cambria Suites spreads out

Choice’s Cambria Suites spreads out

Choice Hotels International Inc. of Silver Spring, announced plans for new Cambria Suites hotels in White Plains, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; and Houston. Meyer Jabara Hotels, a Danbury, Conn.-based hospitality company, is building a 130-room Cambria Suites in White Plains as part of a $47 million mixed-use development. In Washington, Concord Hospitality Enterprises of Raleigh, N.C., and D.C.-based Roadside Development LLC are partnering to erect a 182-room Cambria Suites as part of CityMarket at O, a $300 million mixed-use development located by the D.C. Convention Center. Concord Hospitality also is developing a 127-room Cambria Suites near the Houston airport.

BBB warns of timeshare scam

The Baltimore-based Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland Inc. is warning timeshare owners who are trying to sell or rent their units to beware of a Las Vegas-based company called City Resorts. According to the BBB, City Resorts contacts timeshare owners stating that they have found a buyer for their timeshare. According to complaints, the owners are told to send a cashier’s check ranging from $2,000 to $6,000 for closing costs or processing fees. Complainants — including owners in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia — report that no buyers or renters emerged, and that they were unable to get responses to calls or get a refund of their money.

SMECO to open solar electric facility

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative of Hughesville has retained Beltsville-based SunEdison LLC, a provider of solar energy services, to construct a 5,500-kilowatt solar electricity facility on land owned by SMECO next to its new Engineering and Operations Building. The solar facility, to be built on 47.2 acres of land, is scheduled to reach full commercial operation in early 2013. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. SMECO, a customer-owned electric distribution cooperative, serves 150,000 customers in southern Prince George’s County, Charles County, St. Mary’s County, and all but the northeast portion of Calvert County.

Saul Centers acquires 3 shopping centers

Saul Centers Inc., a Bethesda-based real estate investment trust focused on retail and office properties, said it paid $168.5 million for three shopping centers, totaling 635,000 square feet, in Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties. They are Kentlands Square, a 241,000-square-foot shopping center in Gaithersburg, acquired for $74.5 million; Severna Park, a 254,000-square-foot neighborhood center in Severna Park, purchased for $61 million; and Cranberry Square, a 140,000-square-foot center in Westminster, bought for $33 million. The acquisitions were financed with a combination of bridge loans, cash and borrowings from the company’s line of credit; and proceeds from the issuance of new shares of common stock and operating partnership units.

Choice Hotels widens smartphones reach

Choice Hotels International Inc. of Silver Spring announced several smartphone-related milestones, including the launching of its free app for Android users, and its iPhone app reaching its o1 millionth consumer download since its introduction in 2009. The Android app offers users the ability to find and book a room instantly on their phones, as well as GPS technology and mapping functions, and hotel-searching capabilities by city, airport, popular attraction and more. Choice also unveiled a redesigned mobile website, incorporating new features, such as GPS-based search functionality, one-touch calling and more hotel photos and amenities.

Gondol chosen to head Live Baltimore

Steven Gondol, presently the business relationship manager at Live Baltimore, has been named executive director of the Baltimore-based residential marketing organization. Gondol will take over the post on Saturday, when current Executive Director Anna Custer-Singh’s resignation takes effect. Custer-Singh has led the nonprofit group since March 2007. Gondol, who has a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati, is a resident of Patterson Park. Live Baltimore promotes Baltimore City as a desirable place to live. In addition to maintaining a 500-page website, it offers home buying events and educational classes throughout the year so prospective renters and buyers can select a neighborhood that fits their needs.

Bunting Center earns AIA citation

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., chapter, presented the Presidential Citation for Urban Design to The Mary Catherine Bunting Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. The AECOM (Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Management) design team leadership accepted on behalf of the entire Mary Catherine Bunting Center at Mercy project development team, including Thomas R. Mullen, Mercy president and CEO; the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and Patrick Ross Photography. Mercy Medical Center selected AECOM to design a new replacement hospital in the heart of downtown Baltimore via a design competition. The 700,000 gross-square-foot new hospital serves as a new “front door” for the urban campus. Extensive landscape areas, including a series of roof gardens, enhances the connection between nature and healing, and serves as a visual link between the adjacent historic park, Preston Gardens.

MacKenzie unit picked to sell former Village of Carsins Run site

MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC of Lutherville has been selected by The Presbyterian Home of Maryland as the exclusive marketer for the sale of 138 acres of land in Harford County. As the last, largest developable contiguous land parcel along Maryland’s heavily trafficked I-95 Corridor, the former Village at Carsins Run site is easily accessed by both local residents and interstate travelers. Situated near Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fieldside Commons and Cal Ripken Stadium, market research has shown the property is best suited for residential and retail opportunities. Efforts are underway to identify and secure a replacement site for the 127-year-old retirement living and health organization within the county’s jurisdiction. MacKenzie’s Thomas L. Fidler Jr. and F. Joseph Bradley III are in charge of the disposition of the property.

Md. shopping center included in package of 36 sold to investors

Equity One Inc., a North Miami Beach, Fla.-based owner, developer and operator of shopping centers, announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell 36 shopping centers comprising approximately 3.9 million square feet for $473.1 million to Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII. Although properties are predominantly located in the Atlanta, Tampa and Orlando markets, there are others in other states in the package, including the South Plaza shopping center in California, Md. The 92,335 gross-leasable-square-foot shopping center is anchored by Ross Dress for Less, Old Navy, Best Buy and PetSmart.

Northrop Team tops home sales ranking

The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., based in Clarksville, was ranked No. 1 in the nation in residential real estate transaction volume in 2010, according to a prestigious national list compiled annually by Real Trends Inc., a real estate consulting and communications company, and the Wall Street Journal. The Northrop Team closed $308 million worth of residential real estate transactions last year, far outstripping the second-place team, the New York-based Bracha Group of Keller Williams Realty, which closed $226.4 million worth of transactions.

In all, nine Maryland-based individuals and companies made the list of the top 250 real estate sellers in the nation by sales volume. They are: Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., No. 1; Eric Pakulla of RE/MAX Advantage Realty, No. 36; Jane Fairweather of Coldwell Banker Washington, D.C./Virginia/NRT, No. 39; Coley Reed & Associates of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., No. 77; The Banner Team of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., No. 90; Hubble Bisbee Group of Coldwell Banker Greater Baltimore/NRT, No. 100; Guldi Real Estate Group of Keller Williams Realty, No. 128; Rozansky Realty Group of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., No. 163; and Meg Finn of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., No. 247.

Emmitsburg solar project gets underway

(AP) Constellation Energy Group said it has begun construction on Maryland’s largest solar power project, a 16.1-megawatt installation on 100 acres leased from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. Energy produced at the $60 million solar power plant will be bought by the state and the University System of Maryland. Constellation will finance, own and operate the site, expected to begin operating next year. In July, the state Board of Public Works voted to lease land near a state prison near Hagerstown for a 20-megawatt solar project. Maryland’s renewable energy goals call for more than 1,000 of megawatts of solar energy by 2022.

Inspector jobs kept vacant in Wash. Co.

(AP) Washington County officials are citing a decline in construction activity in their decision not to fill two vacant inspector positions. Over the objections of County Administrator Gregory Murray, the Washington County Commissioners voted not to fill positions for a code inspector who inspects private-sector projects, and a construction inspector responsible for county projects, the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reported. Murray said the employees are needed because the workload on other inspectors could lead to project delays or overlooked safety hazards. Robert Slocum, deputy director of the Division of Public Works, said both positions are vacant as a result of retirements and promotions.

Builders and projects honored by Land Development Council

Bob Goodier of Goodier Builders Inc. was named Developer of the Year by the Land Development Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Awards also went to Eliot Powell of Whitehall Development LLC for Lifetime Achievement; Sean Davis of Morris & Ritchie Associates Inc., who was named Consultant of the Year; and Dan Whitehurst of Clark Turner Signature Homes LLC, who was singled out as the year’s Rising Star. Numerous projects also were honored, including Maple Lawn, Walnut Grove, Tanyard Springs, Clipper Mill, Marea St. Michaels, Shipley’s Grant and Briar Knoll. For details on these projects and the development teams behind their construction, click here.

Medical imaging services provider opens office in Highlandtown

American Radiology Services, a provider of medical imaging services that operates imaging centers throughout Maryland and Delaware, will open its newest office Oct. 3. The 7,192-square-foot center is located on the first floor of the Highlandtown Healthy Living Center, a 132,000-square-foot green medical office building that opened in March 2010 and provides primary care, pharmaceutical, mental health and ob/gyn services to 15,000 people in East Baltimore. The new ARS center at 3700 Fleet Street will be the first that the company has opened outside of a hospital building, according to a company spokeswoman. It replaces the ARS center at North Point, which closed on Friday.

UM’s WaterShed House tops architectural portion of Department of Energy 2011 Solar Decathlon

The University of Maryland’s innovative WaterShed House has won the architecture portion of a competition among 20 international collegiate teams that are competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011 to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The student- and faculty-built home, now on display on the National Mall in Washington, blends solar energy efficiency and water conservation. A panel of experts is judging the competing entries on their architectural qualities, market appeal, engineering, educational/communication effort, affordability, comfort zone, hot water systems, appliances, home entertainment and energy balance. The final decathlon results will be announced this weekend. The Maryland Solar Decathlon team consists of students and faculty from the Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, the University Libraries, and the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Maryland businesses and professional groups are providing significant support as well.

Renovation of historic Baltimore church building earns award

The renovation of Baltimore’s historic First & Franklin Street Presbyterian Church was recognized by Baltimore Heritage with a Restoration and Rehabilitation Award at recent ceremonies in Union Square Park. Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects of Baltimore completed architectural design services for the project. Work on the circa 1850s church building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, included preserving the building’s stem-and-branch ribbed ceiling vaults; installing new high-efficiency light fixtures to highlight elegantly recast plaster acanthus leaves and decorative rosettes; and restoring the original multicolored paint palette. Air conditioning was also installed in the religious structure for the first time in the church’s history, and both building and site are now 100 percent handicap-accessible.

Hogan Cos. brokers sale of land near Arundel Mills

The Hogan Cos., an Annapolis-based land brokerage, announced the recent sale of a 1.77-acre parcel of raw land in Anne Arundel County. Located near the intersection of Arundel Mills Boulevard along Dorsey Road in Hanover, the commercially zoned property is in close proximity to what will be Maryland’s largest casino at Arundel Mills mall. The property, which was purchased by an unidentified local investor, is one of several recently sold by Hogan’s Land Brokerage Team in Anne Arundel County. Victor White, Hogan’s chief operating officer, represented the owners, who also were not identified in the announcement of the sale of the land. Financial details of the transaction also were not disclosed.

Deerco Road flex building purchased for $4.15 million

Cassidy Turley announced the sale of Deereco I, a 40,151-square-foot flex building at 9474 Deereco Road, adjacent to I-83 in Timonium. Columbia-based Abrams Development Group purchased the building for $4.155 million. Jon Carpenter and Jay Wellschlager of Cassidy Turley’s Capital Markets Group represented the seller, Deereco I LLC. Built in 1984, the building is 100 percent leased.


Susan A. Homberg

Brendon Behan

Manekin LLC of Columbia announced the hiring of Susan A. Homberg as vice president and Brendon Behan as assistant vice president in its brokerage division. Homberg, a 12-year industry veteran, will focus on tenant and landlord representation in the mid-Atlantic area’s retail and office markets, and will work out of Baltimore. She most recently was vice president, real estate services for JPB Enterprises, and has also worked as a leasing specialist for Jones Lang LaSalle, overseeing retail leasing activities in the Washington metro area. Behan, a 16-year industry veteran, will work from Manekin’s Columbia headquarters, focusing on landlord-tenant representation and lease advisory services in the Baltimore-Washington Corridor office-flex market. Behan formerly was an assistant vice president at McShea & Co., and also worked as a property manager for Transwestern Commercial Real Estate Services.