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Baltimore sanitation yard gets gussied up

This week, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Department of Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx for the re-opening of the Northwest Sanitation Yard – gussied up to become the new “Super Citizen Convenience Center.”

The center, at 2824 Sisson St., offers what city officials call “easier access for residents to dispose of trash and recycling” and will be a site to dump hazardous waste in a collection container. In the past, city residents had to dispose of trash or recycling at the open gate or toss it over the side of the fence there into a large container.

City officials lauded the new drop-off design, which features a raised, permanent platform for easy, drive-by trash and recycling dumps. Who said city government was out of touch?

“It is important that we are always looking for creative and innovative ideas that will make the services we provide more convenient for residents,” the mayor said in a statement. “We need to constantly evaluate ourselves so we can improve City services and grow our city.”

The site will also be the new home for the Bureau of Solid Waste’s entire Mechanical Street Sweeping Operation where 10 new street sweepers will be housed.

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All is right with the world again. The lunchroom at the Woman’s Industrial Exchange at 333 N. Charles Street in Mt. Vernon will soon reopen.

The owner of the popular local food truck Souper Freak, Irene Smith, has inked a lease to reopen the tearoom at the Exchange and bring back the true spirit of the place, tomato aspic, chicken salad, biscuits and iced tea. The rebirth was first reported this week in The Sun.

The tearoom will reopen on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — and will offer a welcome and yummy dose of nostalgia to those who were waiting in line at a Walmart or the mall  in the wee hours of the morning to snag a deal.

The Woman’s Exchange has struggled over the past decade along with much of the Charles Street corridor, where vacancies in the unique, quirky and historic buildings of the city’s unofficial main street are numerous.

Its front window is always a splash of handmade glory, from sock monkeys to Raggedy Ann dolls, crocheted baby quilts and hand-smocked pastel and holiday dresses.

The Exchange’s quaint lunchroom has been open and closed on and off for years — and closed completely two years ago. Smith told The Sun she plans to reinstitute many simple favorites on the menu, and her hours will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

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Erickson Living promoted a “first” in the senior housing industry this week when it announced a Nov. 17 event billed as using Twitter to inform adult children of seniors about their parents retirement living needs.

Erickson Living, a Catonsville-based company that owns senior housing developments in nine states including Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan, says the new social networking and microblogging services in the form of a TweetChat from 1 to 3 p.m. will highlight what type of medical services are available at a continuing care retirement community. The group’s developments in the Baltimore metro area are located in Parkville, Catonsville and Silver Spring.

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This week, the city Department of Finance filed a request with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation to remove 2,157 property owners from Homestead Tax Credit eligibility.

Under a new billing integrity program, the city could reap an additional $1.2 million in city tax revenues and $27,000 in state taxes for 2012.

Under the program, city finance officials will audit and identify “ incorrect assessment data” received from the state assessments and taxation office, which is the basis for the city’s property tax bills and credits.

City officials said Friday that since June, the billing audits have found $2.2 million in additional city property taxes, a portion of that from ineligible tax exemptions on property through the Homestead Tax Credit program. A primary requirement for receiving the homestead credit is that property must be the homeowner’s primary residence.

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Commercial real estate group Cassidy Turley released its report on the Baltimore Metropolitan Area office market this week.

The report showed the metro area’s vacancy rate remains at 19 percent. The area absorbed 757,000 square feet of space over the first three quarters of 2011, 66 percent in the third quarter.

Downtown Baltimore’s most noteworthy transaction during the third quarter was Under Armour’s $60.5 million closing on the 385,000-square-foot Tide Point complex. Located off of Key Highway on the city’s majestic waterfront, the sports apparel maker is expanding its corporate headquarters and further plans to absorb the vacant 90,000 square feet there over the next two years.

In the metro area’s corridor, a majority of the commercial absorption occurred in newly
delivered buildings surrounding Fort Meade as BRAC stepped up its expansion, including 60,000 square feet at National Business Park leased to defense and IT related government contractors such as Sotera Defense Systems and Apptis Inc. Growth in the Fort Meade area continues as small contractors move in.

In Towson, the report said Towson University’s growth has sparked an increase in tenant activity. Further north, the Maryland Hospital Association leased 25,000 square feet in Hunt Valley, and construction commenced on a 126,400 square foot, four-story office building for EA Engineering.

Future forecasts by Cassidy Turley include added growth along the city’s waterfront, including Harbor East.

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TIDBITS: The Sun reported this week that about 817 new residential units and 70,000 square feet of retail space could be added to Columbia’s downtown. The move would be master developer Howard Hughes Corp.’s first project in Howard County. The development would be located near The Mall in Columbia… Becker Morgan Group, recently completed a 434,000 square-foot distribution center for Johnson Controls/ Middletown. The center is located in the Westown Business Park in Middletown, Del., and includes a two-story administrative and employee office area and 39 truck bays.