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Port Covington parcel to be auctioned June 14

A June 14 foreclosure auction has been scheduled for a 5.21-acre parcel of the city’s waterfront in Port Covington once envisioned to be a sparkling retail and residential hub.

The auction of 301 E. Cromwell St. will be held at 1 p.m. in the law offices of Miles & Stockbridge P.C. at 10 Light Street.

The property is located on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and had been slated for a mixed-use development by the struggling developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse.

State assessment records show the property was purchased by SBER Port Covington LLC for $3.2 million in February 2005. The value, though, has dropped to just over $521,000, the records show.

The formerly industrial property is located near Interstate 95 and includes waterfront land and two piers that jet into the Patapsco, with riparian rights that go with those piers.

Last summer, BB&T Corp. moved to foreclose on SBER for the property, saying the developer owed nearly $11 million on a delinquent mortgage.

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Business Health Services recently leased about 11,000 square feet of new office space from MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services. The new digs in the ultra-modern, glass exterior Marbury Building at 6225 Smith Avenue in Mount Washington will allow the company to expand its corporate wellness, population health management and employee assistance programs to a corps of national clients.

F. Joseph Bradley III, a MacKenzie vice president, worked with BHS on the deal.

“The new location at Smith Avenue is the perfect fit for my client. In addition to providing the expansion opportunity that they needed, the building will provide a showcase for their unique expertise,” Bradley said.

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This week, representatives from Builders of Hope visited Baltimore to discuss a project to renovate some of the city’s stock of blighted, vacant properties.

The project was announced in April as a plan to convert 500 vacant properties in Park Heights and East Baltimore near the Johns Hopkins Hospital back to active housing, said Nancy Welsh, CEO of the nonprofit Builders of Hope, based in Raleigh, N.C.

The group will partner with Ravens star Ray Lewis in the effort to offer affordable housing opportunities and financial literacy programs to some of the city’s neediest residents.

The first groundbreaking is expected in late July, Welsh said.

“We met with city housing officials, council members and different nonprofit groups,” Welsh said. “And we will be in Baltimore each week” until the project here gets started.

Welsh said her group has received an anonymous investment of $100 million.

She said she has met with the city Department of Housing and Community Development to discuss its Vacants to Value program, started two years ago to match prospective new homeowners with some of the city’s 16,000 vacant houses and buildings, many of them owned by the city. Other properties owned by absentee landlords are also targeted by Welsh for the Builders of Hope project here, she added.

The group is also working to move bank-owned properties from foreclosure back into the housing market through leasing or homeownership opportunities.

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This week, officials of the Baltimore City Public School System celebrated a groundbreaking for construction of the city’s first newly constructed school since 1998. The project to build a new Waverly Elementary-Middle School follows a decade of grassroots activism by the Waverly community for the new 130,000-square-foot building.

The $26.9 million project will be built by CAM Construction, which recently renovated Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The new school will hold 900 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. It includes space for the after-school programs of the Franciscan Youth Center and the Waverly School Age Child Care Center.

The old school building will be demolished after December 2013, when the first phase of new construction is completed. The second phase of the construction — to include a science lab, gym and an athletic field — is expected to be completed in August 2014.

In other school news, the Stoneleigh Steel Drum Band serenaded Baltimore County school officials this past week as they broke ground for renovations that include a new addition to Stoneleigh Elementary School in Towson.

The work is expected to be completed by August 2013. Until then, Stoneleigh students and staff will relocate to the old George W. Carver Center for Arts and Technology building this fall.

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TIDBITS: Bon appétit! Construction of a new food court is underway at White Marsh Mall to feature Charley’s Grilled Subs and Yolavie Premium Frozen Yogurt. The new court will be ready in August … Save June 23 on your calendar to help preserve a piece of the memory of former Gov. William Donald Schaefer. The group Friends of Mothers’ Garden will hold a cleanup of the northeast Baltimore garden beginning at 10 a.m. The garden, located at Harford Road and Erdman Avenue, was dedicated to Schaefer’s mother, Tululu and recently has been reclaimed by the community group that aims to return it to its former glory when Hizzoner was in office … Mercy Medical Center will open a Family Childbirth & Children’s Center on June 10. The state of the art facility includes 13 labor and delivery suites and a 24-bed NICU … This week, the Maryland Green Designer Show Home broke ground at the Preserve at Severn Run in Gambrills to benefit two charities, Hospice of the Chesapeake and the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Foundation. Two sponsors include Baldwin Homes Inc. and Purple Cherry Architects … The apartment complex known as the Haven at Odenton Gateway this week was lauded as the first rental community in the state to receive silver-level certification from the National Association of Home Builders Research Center … The Children’s Home, a 149-year-old Catonsville residential facility for youths who have been abused, abandoned or neglected, has launched a $2 million fundraising campaign to build two new residential buildings and a swimming pool … Metro Centre at Owings Mills, the $200 million mixed-use, transit-oriented development under construction in Owings Mills, recently launched a website, www.MetroCentreOM.com. Developers Owings Mills Transit, LLC and David S. Brown Enterprises are working to promote the development that will have more than 1.2 million square feet of commercial office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space and 1,700 residential units. Around the corner, a planned $140 million redevelopment of the former Solo Cup plant on Reisterstown Road that will include a Wegmans and other retail, is getting its own marketing blitz through social media and snail mail. Greenberg Gibbons Commercial, developers of Foundry Row, is in the midst of a full court public opinion press to get the project rezoned by the Baltimore County Council this summer. Critics, who include MetroCentre officials, say Foundry Row will over saturate the market with retail and clog roads. Stay tuned as this epic battle develops.