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GM says sales picking up at the Ritz-Carlton

Sales of the luxury condos at the $220 million Ritz-Carlton Residences in Federal Hill have been steady this year, due, in part, to social media, word on the street and old-fashioned hustle, reports General Manager Joe Graziose.

“The market seems to be responding,” said Graziose, also a senior vice president with Long Island-based RXR Realty, owner of the property.

That wasn’t always the case. The development of 190 units struggled to attract buyers after it opened in 2007, and by August 2010, only 23 units had sold.

In response, Graziose has drastically cut the sales prices of the remaining units to jump start action. Pressure was also lifted about a year ago after a buy-back by RXR of a $176 million private refinancing loan made in 2010 to restructure the high debt load of the posh development.

Graziose, who lives at the Ritz-Carlton Residences with his family, said the waterfront condos located along Key Highway have been popular lately among young professionals with children.

“I’ve sold two more condos here where people buy two units and merge them together,” he said of two double-wides recently completed that total 4,100 and 3,800 square feet and sold for $2.5 million and $2.3 million, respectively.

“Our average age has gone down to 51, but folks in their late 30s and early 40s have caught on to it,” Graziose said. “What I’m finding is that people that work in the city want to be close enough to their businesses and be back home to be with their children.”

Graziose said the Ritz is readying a new short video and revamped website to help push sales this year. So far, he has sold 20 units this year, and has set a goal of selling 110 of the development’s 190 total units by December 31. Last year, he said the sales force closed on a total of 37 properties there.

“I’m very pleased with our progress,” Graziose, ever the optimist, said. “We’re really seeing a lot of traffic here — 65 percent of our buyers are from Baltimore, and others are from New York, Chicago and Texas. We have people looking who are relocating from Exelon, Johns Hopkins and we’ve had some inquiries from folks who work at Under Armour.”

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This week, Cushman & Wakefield inked a long-term lease to relocate the Everything Warehouse to 54,600 square feet of space at 1615 Wicomico Street in Baltimore. The company is a supplier of industrial material handling equipment and racking and retail store fixtures.

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Cresa, a Washington-based tenant commercial real estate firm, is opening a Baltimore office to better serve the company’s tenants now in more than 1.4 million square feet of office space locally. Senior vice president Dan Shapiro and vice president Scott Wingrat will lead the Baltimore office.

“Cresa’s D.C. operations have responded to a demand in the Baltimore market for objective and conflict-free tenant representation,” said Rich Rhodes, managing principal. “Our ability to act in a full advisory role, providing long-term solutions based on in-depth analysis of a corporation’s needs, is an unprecedented service in the Baltimore region and has provided us with a natural opportunity for expansion into that territory.”

Cresa also has offices in southern Maryland and Virginia and now in Baltimore.

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Women’s designer Eileen Fisher will soon open its first Baltimore-area store at Hunt Valley Towne Centre.

Developers Greenberg Gibbons said this week the company has leased 6,273 square feet of space at a new pad site at the northern Baltimore County mall located off of Interstate 83 at Shawan Road. Construction is underway.

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Get your sweet tooth on: The Best of Luck Candy & Gifts shop has opened at the Power Plant in the Inner Harbor.

The boutique candy and gift shop features “the highest quality nostalgia and bulk candy and gift baskets, in addition to hosting the sweetest and most unique events including children’s birthday parties, sweet sixteen parties and baby showers,” an announcement said this week.

The Best of Luck had been located at Harbor East, but the move allowed the small local business to double its size to 900 square feet and offer new sweetness and treats. Candy and treats are offered beginning at $9.99 per pound, with chocolate selling for a bulk rate of $11.99 per pound. The shop is located next to Phillips Seafood, is open seven days a week and also sells fresh popcorn, slushies and ice cream.

“The energy of the Inner Harbor is infectious and the new, larger space allowed us not only to grow our candy offerings, but also to expand our concept to include a wider array of confections and gifts, plus a fantastic new event space,” said owner Lucky Thompson.

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NAIOP will hold its annual industrial real estate conference in Jersey City, N.J., beginning June 14.

The organizers for the commercial real estate development association’s event plan to address regional, national and global goods forecasts and challenges, real estate demand drivers and strategies for accessing capital in “today’s unsettled market.”

The conference will also feature unusual live entertainment with a professional interest theme: an event “Art of the Deal — Shark Tank” — where a pair of developers will pitch opportunities to the equity reps from Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.

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TIDBITS: Jimmy John’s sandwich shop has opened a new franchise at the popular McHenry Row in Locust Point … MacKenzie Management Co. will manage the redeveloped 12-story Towson City Center when the building delivers in June. Work there includes leasing and accounts payable. Tenants include MileOne Automotive, Towson University’s College of Health Professions and WTMD-FM and a new farm-to-table steakhouse restaurant concept, Cunningham Kitchen, is also expected to open there soon. Caves Valley Partners purchased the building last spring of 2011, after it had sat vacant for almost a decade… Baltimore’s Floura Teeter Landscape Architects recently promoted three: Scott Huot, RLA, is now a senior associate and landscape designers Jeffrey Stump and Jeremy Frederick are new associates with the firm.