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Real Estate Weekly – 12/2/11: Marriott opens 3 properties in Qatar

Canadian firm plans hiring on Shore

A Canadian natural foods company plans to hire up to 100 workers for its new manufacturing facility in Cambridge, the state Department of Business and Economic Development announced Monday. Protenergy Natural Foods Corp. bought the manufacturing assets of Foodswing Inc. to establish its first U.S. facility. According to Protenergy, the company made the acquisition to expand its production capacity to meet the growing demand for its soups, broths, sauces and gravies. “We have already hired several employees and expect to hire several more in the upcoming months as we install additional production lines in the Cambridge facility,” said Kevin Tracey, Protenergy’s president.

FRIT obtains new financing

Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville announced the closing of a new, seven-year, $275 million unsecured term loan from a group of major banks that include PNC Capital Markets LLC and Capital One Bank. Proceeds were used to pay down outstanding balances under FRIT’s $400 million revolving credit facility, to pay for near-term acquisitions, development expenditures at three projects in California, Massachusetts and Maryland, and for general corporate purposes. FRIT has an option to increase the term loan to $350 million through an accordion feature. Federal Realty Investment Trust is a real estate investment trust focused on high-quality retail assets.

Fire damages orchid greenhouse at UMES

(AP) A fire caused an estimated $6.5 million in damage to an orchid greenhouse facility that covers more than two acres on the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, campus in Princess Anne. The blaze broke out Sunday afternoon at the facility leased to a Chinese company and its Maryland subsidiary, U.S. Orchid Laboratory and Nursery, as part of an orchid growing economic development project. The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the blaze. Officials said no injuries were reported. Authorities estimated the fire caused about $6 million in damage to the structure, and another $500,000 in damage to its contents.

Marriott opens 3 properties in Qatar

Marriott International Inc. of Bethesda announced the opening of three properties in Doha, the largest city and the seat of government in the Gulf state of Qatar. Two hotels — the 257-room Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel and the 204-unit Courtyard by Marriott Doha City Center — and an executive stay facility, the 123-apartment Marriott Executive Apartments, Doha City Center, are located within two 48-story towers across from the Qatar Financial Centre. The facilities share lobbies, nine restaurants and bars, 12,917 square feet of meeting space, and a health club and spa. Marriott manages six lodging facilities in Qatar.

REIT acquires 4 buildings in Md., Va.

First Potomac Realty Trust of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that owns and operates industrial and office properties in the Greater Washington metropolitan area, announced that it has added four fully leased Class A suburban office buildings to its portfolio. Two of the buildings, Hillside Center I and II, are in Columbia and contain 86,189 square feet of space. First Potomac paid $16.15 million for the properties. The other two buildings, Metro Place III and IV, are in Merrifield, Va., and total 325,328 square feet of space. First Potomac is sharing ownership with the Coakley family, which owns 49 percent.

Court OKs Georgian’s Chapter 11 sale

(Bloomberg) The Georgian, an 891-unit apartment project in Silver Spring, can be sold for $193 million to Washington-based Lowe Real Estate Group-East Inc. under a Chapter 11 plan for the project’s owner that was approved last week in a confirmation order signed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greenbelt. If the buyer doesn’t complete the acquisition, the plan has alternative terms where the existing loan will be restructured so the lender ends up with ownership. Ninety percent occupied, the project has twin 14-story towers on a 3.25-acre plot. There are $185 million in original principal amount of first mortgages, not including a $30 million mezzanine loan.

Argan subsidiary to build solar project

Gemma Power Systems of Glastonbury, Conn., a wholly owned subsidiary of Rockville-based Argan Inc., said it was awarded a contract valued at approximately $16.6 million to design and build a 5.7-megawatt solar energy facility for Southern Sky Renewable Energy Canton LLC. The project will consist of approximately 19,800 photovoltaic panels located on a closed, capped landfill in Canton, Mass. When completed in the summer of 2012, the solar energy project will cover approximately 12.5 acres of the 40-acre landfill. The actual design and construction work will be done by Gemma Power Systems’ wholly owned subsidiary, Gemma Renewable Power LLC.

Marriott to open extended-stay hotel in Panama City next year Marriott International Inc. of Bethesda, the world’s largest hotel company, announced that the Finisterre Suites in Panama City, Panama, will be converted to a Marriott Executive Apartments extended-stay hotel in early 2012. The 126-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Finisterre – Panama, will be operated by Marriott under a long-term management agreement with the owner, Grupo Hotelero Finisterre S.A. Marriott Executive Apartments was selected by the owner as the preferred brand and operator, after a competitive operator search process carried out by the tourism consultancy, C4T Tourism, Business & Planning. This will be Marriott’s fourth lodging property in Panama. Existing sites are the 388-room Panama City Marriott, the 248-room Courtyard Panama Real Hotel and the recently opened 120-room Courtyard Panama Metro Mall. Marriott will open the 180-room Casamar Marriott Panama Resort on Panama’s Pacific coast in 2013.

NAIOP Maryland releases criteria for 2012 Awards of Excellence

NAIOP Maryland, the local chapter of NAIOP, a national trade association for developers, owners and investors involved with the commercial real estate industry, has released criteria and submission details for the organization’s 2012 Awards of Excellence program. The competition, which is held every two years, will recognize winners in 35 different categories for excellence in the design, development, marketing and leasing of commercial office, industrial and retail projects in the Greater Baltimore region. A number of individuals involved in the local commercial real estate industry will also be honored.

The Awards of Excellence program is open only to members with an active membership in NAIOP Maryland that have worked on projects situated within Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford or Howard counties, as well as Baltimore City. To be eligible for the competition, buildings must have a certificate of occupancy by Dec. 31, 2011, and cannot have been a previous NAIOP Maryland Awards of Excellence winner. For additional information, as well as the complete set of submission rules and deadlines, visit www.naiopmd.org.

Hogan selected to sell Spa Gate in Annapolis Hogan Cos., an Annapolis-based land broker, has been selected to exclusively sell Spa Gate, a 19-lot, finished townhouse community on Spa Road in Annapolis. Hogan’s Mike Sponseller is marketing the property on behalf of the owner. The project is within walking distance of the luxury condominium development Park Place; has convenient access to the entertainment and retail amenities of West Street, downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek; has frontage on Spa Road; and sits at the entrance to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Nearby merchants include Level, the Metropolitan, Ruby Salon, Tsunami and Carpaccio.

Boeing adds to space at Aberdeen Proving Ground The Boeing Co.’s Electronic and Mission Systems Division has signed a lease with St. John Properties for 26,000 square feet of space at The Government and Technology Enterprise (GATE) project, a 416-acre business community inside Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. The aerospace company eases 6,000 square feet of space, and the new requirement will bring its occupancy to 32,000 square feet. The Fairfax, Va.-based E&MS division will occupy a full floor at 6200 Guardian Gateway, and bring more than 100 new employees to the recently completed building in early 2012. 6200 Guardian Gateway is a three-story, 75,000-square-foot Class A office building that will achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for environmental sustainability. Michael Sullivan and Angela Stanton of CB Richard Ellis represented the tenant and Matt Holbrook of St. John Properties represented the landlord in this transaction.

Baltimore County closes tunnel under CSX tracks Baltimore County Department of Public Works officials have spent about $12,000 to close the pedestrian tunnel connecting Hammonds Ferry and Sulphur Spring roads in Lansdowne and Arbutus. The tunnel, which runs under the CSX railroad, has been a community eyesore and magnet for graffiti for several years, and the decision to close it was based on input from community leaders and local business people. The consensus was to construct block walls at both ends, with locked access doors for repair and inspection. The work was completed this week. The concrete underpass was built 44 years ago under an agreement with the B&O Rail Road, CSX’s predecessor. The county agreed to build, repair, renew and maintain the passage through the company’s right-of-way in exchange for $1, according to the 1966 contract.

Brawner Builders buys building

NAI KLNB, a unit of Towson-based KLNB LLC, announced the purchase of 11011 McCormick Road, a 58,000-square-foot office and flex building in Hunt Valley, by Brawner Builders Inc. for $3.45 million. The building, which once housed the headquarters of spice producer McCormick & Co.’s real estate subsidiaries, McCormick Properties and McCormick Construction, is partially occupied by Sentient Medical Management. Brawner intends to consolidate multiple locations and establish its corporate headquarters into approximately 23,000 square feet of space in the building by the first quarter of 2012. James Caronna, a principal with NAI KLNB, represented Brawner Builders. Ketch Secor represented the seller, Corporate Office Properties Trust, in the transaction. Caronna and Bill Miller of NAI KLNB are handling the leasing of the building’s remaining 18,000 square feet.

Charging stations at Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University and SemaConnect, a Annapolis-based developer and producer of smart networked electric vehicle charging stations and sophisticated electric vehicle station software, announced the installation of several ChargePro EV charging stations at JHU’s South Garage. The Maryland Energy Administration allocated approximately $600,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to aid the development and integration of electric vehicles into Maryland’s transportation system. The investment resulted in the construction of 65 charging stations throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, providing the necessary infrastructure to allow electric vehicle owners to travel throughout the region. The Baltimore-Washington Electric Vehicle Initiative in partnership with SemaConnect is developing 55 electric charging stations.

PERSONNEL

Thomas Carbo will serve as acting director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development and executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission, effective January 2012, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced. Stacy L. Spann, who has served in the post for the past five years, has accepted a job as executive director of the Housing Opportunities Commission in Montgomery County. Carbo began his career as an assistant attorney general for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. He came to Howard County as assistant county solicitor, spending for 13 years in that office, where he helped create the Howard County Housing Commission — the county’s public housing authority. He has also served as the county’s hearing examiner and labor coordinator.

Daft McCune Walker Inc., a Towson-based multidisciplinary land development/design consulting firm, announced that Hank Alinger has joined DMW as director of design services. In the post, Alinger is responsible for directing and coordinating the landscape architecture services across DMW’s offices in Towson, Frederick and Berlin. Alinger, a registered landscape architect, has 30 years of urban design and community revitalization projects experience, and has overseen the design and planning process from concept through implementation. Prior to DMW, he was an associate principal and studio leader at EDSA, and a principal with the multi-disciplinary firm HNTB Inc. and LDR International, a renowned planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm, respectively.

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