County expands small business loan fund
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced on Wednesday that five more banks have joined the Baltimore County Small Business Loan Partnership, bringing total commitments to the loan fund to $12.35 million from 20 financial institutions. CFG Community Bank, Sandy Spring Bank, Peoples Bank, Northwest Savings Bank and TD Bank have joined the public-private partnership between the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development and 20 of the region’s leading financial institutions. The fund provides real estate and equipment loans to companies located or planning to locate in Baltimore County. Loans require only 10 percent equity, freeing capital for additional investment.
Home furnishings retailer leases 1.2 million-square-foot industrial property in Cecil County
Restoration Hardware, a high-end home and outdoor furnishings retailer based in Corte Madera, Calif., has signed a 15-year lease for a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse facility at Trade Center 95, an industrial property on U.S. Route 40 in North East. The company will move into an existing 600,000-square-foot building on the site in January, and the property owner, Weeks Robinson Properties of Atlanta, will build an additional 600,000-square-foot building adjacent to the existing structure. Restoration Hardware will use the entire complex as its East Coast furniture distribution center. The second building will be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2012, according to Weeks Robinson. Forrest Robinson, CEO of Weeks Robinson Properties, called the transaction “one of the largest industrial leases signed in 2011 in the U.S.” CBRE’s Atlanta office represented Restoration Hardware.
Downtown Bethesda development planned
Stonebridge Carras of Bethesda, a privately held real estate investment and development firm, and PN Hoffman, a Washington-based mixed-use developer, announced they have formed a joint venture with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. to build a $200 million, mixed-use project on two parking lots in the heart of Bethesda’s prime commercial district. The development will contain 88 condominums and 162 rental apartments and 40,000 square feet of street retail above a 950-space public parking garage. The site at the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues is the largest undeveloped tract of land in downtown Bethesda. Ground-breaking is scheduled for January 2012.
Big-and-tall store opens in Columbia
Casual Male Retail Group Inc. of Canton, Mass, a national retailer of big-and-tall men’s apparel, has opened a new DestinationXL men’s superstore at the Dobbin Center, 6435 Dobbin Road, in Columbia. The store offers more than 2,000 styles from CMRG’s four existing apparel businesses, Casual Male XL, Rochester Big & Tall, Shoes XL and B&T Direct. The comprehensive selection is intended to appeal across the big-and-tall market in a “one-stop-shop” environment. CMRG has 16 DXL superstores throughout the U.S., and plans to open another 20-30 stores during 2012 and approximately 100 stores over a four- to five-year period.
Traffic Group to plan rapid bus system
The Traffic Group Inc., a White Marsh-based transportation planning and traffic engineering firm, has been selected by Montgomery County authorities to develop a conceptual plan and cost estimate for a new, bus-based rapid transit system in the county. The bus rapid transit system under consideration would extend 150-170 miles, making it the largest of its kind in the U.S. The Traffic Group will prepare concepts detailing how and where exclusive lanes, reversible lanes or guideways will be constructed for each of 24 routes, including cost estimates for each segment. The approximately $250,000 cost of the conceptual plan is being funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Boost for Maryland Solar Farm facility
FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, Ohio, said its FirstEnergy Solutions subsidiary has signed a long-term agreement to purchase the output from the Maryland Solar Farm, a $70 million, green energy facility planned by Easton-based Maryland Solar LLC for 250 acres of state-owned correctional facility land near Hagerstown. Under the terms of the agreement, FirstEnergy Solutions will purchase the facility’s 20-megawatt output for 20 years. The long-term purchase power agreement demonstrates that Maryland Solar will have a guaranteed source of revenue, a critical milestone for the project to obtain financing. In addition, FirstEnergy Solutions will obtain the Renewable Energy Credits produced by the facility.
Water meter replacement underway
The Baltimore City Department of Public Works has begun installing up-to-date, remotely read, outside water meters in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The new meters replace outdated water meters that were installed inside homes nearly 40 years ago. The old meters in some cases can no longer provide remote meter-reading capabilities, DPW officials said. The replacement program could last from three to five years, and eventually replace up to 12,000 outdated meters, although officials said they are unsure how many will need to be changed. The cost per meter is around $900, which includes the equipment, digging a vault outside the home and installation.
Y opens Early Childhood Development Center in Towson
The Y of Central Maryland recently opened its new Y Journeys Early Childhood Development Center at 301 W. Chesapeake Ave. in Towson. The new learning center replaces one previously housed on the Towson Family Center Y campus. The move is part of a series of initiatives the Y is undertaking to fulfill its long-term strategic plan, which calls for improved and expanded Y resources for families and children in Greater Towson and throughout Central Maryland. The new center, in a building that was fully renovated by Obrecht Properties, houses six classrooms with the capacity of serving 80 children, ages 2 to 5 years old. The Y Journeys Early Childhood Development program focuses on the developmental and educational needs of the young child, with an emphasis on school readiness and the Y’s character development values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
Chambers firm chosen to update Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club clubhouse
The Columbia Association selected Chambers, a Baltimore-based architecture and interior design firm, to update the Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club clubhouse. The firm said it was selected based on its architectural and design expertise, and because of its decades-long experience working with private clubs across the United States. Chambers was chosen from among a number of regional and national firms that responded to the CA’s request for proposals. After a comprehensive research and planning phase, Chambers will submit designs to the Club in the spring. The CA Board of Directors has approved close to $6 million for the clubhouse renovation project.
Black Oak Associates acquires shopping center in Laurel
Black Oak Associates Inc., an Owings Mills-based commercial real estate development and investment group, purchased Laurel Gardens, a 30,000-square-foot shopping center in Laurel, for $3 million. Baltimore County Savings Bank provided debt financing for the acquisition. The shopping center, located at the intersection of Sandy Spring Road and Nicholas Drive, is 100 percent leased to two tenants. A Bottom Dollar Food store, owned and operated by the Delhaize America subsidiary Food Lion, occupies 29,000 square feet, and the Laurel Liquors store takes up 1,700 square feet. Black Oak, which owns 10 grocery-anchored shopping centers with about 2 million square feet in the mid-Atlantic region, was attracted to the Laurel location by its long-term viability and investment potential, said Black Oak’s Dixon Harvey.
Posey Associates endows permanent scholarship fund
James Posey Associates, one of the Baltimore-Washington region’s largest mechanical and electrical engineering firms, has endowed a permanent new scholarship fund in recognition of its 100th anniversary. The James Posey Associates Centennial Engineering Scholarship will be administered by the Engineering Society of Baltimore Education Foundation, a charitable educational entity. The goal is to award $2,000 annually to a deserving student from the Baltimore metropolitan area who is enrolled in an ABET-accredited engineering program, with a preference for students majoring in mechanical or electrical engineering. The first scholarship recipient will be announced in 2012. (ABET is a nonprofit organization that accredits post-secondary education programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology.)
St. Charles Towne Center movie theater to be renovated
AMC Entertainment Inc., one of the nation’s largest movie theater companies, said it is planning a $4.5 million renovation for the AMC Loews St. Charles Towne Center 9. Every auditorium will be converted to a Sony 4K digital projection experience and feature state-of-the-art speakers. Other modifications include improvements to the theater’s restrooms, as well as changes to the box office and lobby area. Movie-goers will also enjoy new power leather recliners on platforms, as well as an upgraded concession area. AMC is also evaluating the possibility of adding an IMAX auditorium. The theater will remain open during the conversion, and the auditorium, restroom, lobby and concession area renovations are expected to be complete by the summer of 2012. The St. Charles Towne Center mall is owned by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., the largest real estate company in the U.S.
NAI KLNB brokers sale of Linthicum property
NAI KLNB, the commercial office and industrial sales and leasing unit of Towson-based KLNB LLC, announced the sale of 5200 Raynor Ave., a 6,500-square-foot industrial property in Linthicum, for slightly more than $1 million. Jim Caronna and Todd Evans of NAI KLNB represented both the buyer, AB&GH LLC, and the seller, Re-Bath of Maryland. The new owner operates Control Roofing & Sheet Metal, and provides construction services including roof installations and exterior renovations and installations for public facilities such as schools and hospitals. The property is an industrial/warehouse building featuring 15-foot ceiling heights, five drive-in dock doors and nearly 1,000 square feet of mezzanine office space. Situated on a 1.3-acre lot and built in 1975, the project overlooks the Baltimore Beltway near Exit 7, and is also 2 miles from Interstate 95 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Visitors’ center planned for grotto replica in Emmitsburg
A Roman Catholic landmark in Emmitsburg that attracts pilgrims from around the world is getting a $2.7 million visitor center. Mount St. Mary’s University said the 5,000-square-foot building will welcome hundreds of thousands of people a year to the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes. The 130-year-old shrine is a replica of a cave in Lourdes, France, where the faithful believe the mother of Jesus appeared to a French schoolgirl, Bernadette Soubirous, beginning in 1858. University officials say the structure will house a conference room, gallery, gift shop and administrative offices. Completion is expected in early 2013.
Marriott opens first hotel in popular Mexican resort
Marriott International Inc. of Bethesda announced the opening of its first property in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a moderately priced Fairfield Inn in the heart of the popular resort destination. The five-story, 128-room Fairfield Inn Los Cabos is located on the principal avenue of town, Lazaro Cardenas, close to the popular Medano beach and major tourist attractions such as El Arco, Lover’s Beach, the Puerto Paraiso Mall and Cabo Dolphins. Salomon Kamkhaji, the president of Pulso Hotelero, the hotel’s owner, said the company plans to open 36 Fairfield hotels throughout Mexico. The next such hotel to open will be the 120-room Fairfield Inn Queretaro in fall 2012. Fairfield Inn & Suites, a leader in the moderate-tier lodging category in North America, has more than 670 properties spread through the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Maryland OKs $17M for sewer plant upgrade
(AP) Maryland’s Board of Public Works has approved $17 million in construction grants for the Blue Plains sewage plant, the largest single source of nitrogen pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay. The Department of the Environment said the grants approved Wednesday will help pay for upgrades that will cut nitrogen discharges by 83 percent. The plant on the banks of the Potomac is the main sewage treatment plant for the Washington region, serving the district, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. It accounts for more than 3 percent of the nitrogen in the bay, where it fuels oxygen-robbing algae blooms. The board also approved a $600,000 grant to the city of Frostburg to pay for sewer upgrades designed to reduce overflows during storms.
Ikea powers up solar energy system
The Ikea home furnishings store in White Marsh turned on the switch Thursday on a 77,300-square-foot, 618.2-kw solar energy system, consisting of 2,576 panels that produce enough clean electricity annually to power 71 homes. In contrast to most other solar energy installations, Ikea owns and operates the photovoltaic systems atop its buildings. The White Marsh installation represents the 13th completed solar energy project for Ikea, with 20 more locations underway. REC Solar Inc. of San Luis Obispo, Calif., designed, built and installed the solar energy system at the White Marsh store, according to Ikea.
Chesapeake Hospitality adds Doubletree
Chesapeake Hospitality of Greenbelt, a mid-sized, independent hotel management company, said it has added its first Doubletree hotel to its full-service management portfolio. The Doubletree by Hilton Raleigh Brownstone University hotel is a 197-room hotel located next to North Carolina State University and less than a mile from the Raleigh City Center and Convention Center. The hotel recently completed a $4.6 million exterior and interior renovation. Chesapeake Hospitality has operated more than 30 hotels under more than 10 brands, as well as independent and boutique hotels, in eight states, chiefly in the mid-Atlantic and South.
MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC reported the following recently signed lease transactions:
* Mead, Flynn & Gray P.A., a law firm, leased 2,719 square feet of office space at 1 N. Charles St. in Baltimore City from an affiliate of the Buccini-Pollin Group Inc. Terri Harrington and Antony Gross of MacKenzie represented the landlord. Cassidy Turley’s David Downey represented the tenant.
* Kolmac Clinic Inc., a substance abuse treatment center, leased 1,529 square feet of office space at 1 N. Charles St. The tenant was represented in the lease transaction by Haze McCrary of Broad Street Realty LLC. Terri Harrington and Antony Gross of MacKenzie represented the landlord, an affiliate of the Buccini-Pollin Group Inc.
* Fireguard Corp., a fire protection contractor, leased 12,528 square feet of office space at Wakefield Business Park, 1516 Jabez Run Road in Millersville. MacKenzie’s Justin T. Mullen represented both the landlord, Wakefield Park LLC, and the tenant.
* Commercial Fuel Systems Inc., a fuel management consulting company, rented 12,846 square feet of industrial space at Carroll County Industrial Park, 1551 W. Old Liberty Road in Sykesville. Transwestern Carey Winston’s Brian Siegel represented the tenant. Scott Wingrat and Jon D. Di Virgilio of MacKenzie represented the landlord, Carroll Industrial Properties LLC.
* The Hatcher Group, a public affairs and communications firm that serves nonprofits and foundations, leased 1,100 square feet of office space at 221 Duke of Gloucester St. in Annapolis. MacKenzie’s Patricia Farrell represented both the tenant and the landlord, 221 Duke of Gloucester JV.
* RBC Capital Markets LLC, an investment banking company, leased 12,500 square feet of office space at Annapolis Towne Centre, 1906 Towne Centre Blvd. in Annapolis, from Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole LLC. Representing both landlord and tenant in lease negotiations were Patricia Farrell, Justin T. Mullen, J. Scott Wimbrow and Christopher C. Bennett, all of MacKenzie.
* Key Point Health Services Inc. leased 3,507 square feet of office space at 1101 North Point Blvd. in Baltimore from landlord Hill Management Services Inc. MacKenzie’s Matt Mueller handled negotiations for both parties.
* Soiree Salon LLC rented 2,550 square feet of retail space at Texas Center, 9832 York Road in Cockeysville. Soiree Salon was represented by Mike Gioioso of JBL Real Estate LLC. The landlord, 9832 York Road LLC, was represented by Matt Mueller of MacKenzie.
* Rommell Nursery Road LLC, an Internet hosting and software services company, leased 43,655 square feet of industrial space at 601 Nursery Road in Linthicum. MacKenzie’s Lacey A. O’Neill and Christopher C. Bennett represented both parties in the transaction.
* Polakoff LLC, a law firm, leased 987 square feet of office space at Commercentre, 1777 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville. Meghan Gill Roy of MacKenzie represented Polakoff and the landlord, Commercentre Venture LLP.
* The National Kidney Foundation leased 3,565 square feet of office space at Heaver Plaza, 1301 York Road in Lutherville. Liz Sweeney of Cassidy Turley handled lease negotiations for the foundation. The landlord, Heaver Plaza 1 LLC, was represented by MackKenzie’s William W. Whitty Jr. and Frederick W. Hearn.