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Real Estate Weekly – 7/13/12

Real Estate Weekly – 7/13/12

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KBE’s safety record applauded

KBE Building Corp. received the Platinum STEP (Safety Training & Evaluation Process) Award from the national Associated Builders & Contractors. The award recognizes KBE’s regional offices in both Columbia and Farmington, Conn. The Platinum award is the second highest of five levels of awards recognizing safety and loss prevention programs, safety improvements and performance. The Associated Builders & Contractors has honored KBE with either a Platinum or Gold STEP Award every year since 2003.

New plaza to open at B&O Museum

The B&O Railroad Museum will officially open its new Luther G. Smith Plaza to the public on Thursday. The plaza, located outdoors at the museum between the Baldwin Roundhouse and the North Car Shop, commemorates the centennial of the Brotherhood’s Relief & Compensation Fund, which was founded by Luther G. Smith, a locomotive engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The plaza contains a life-size bronze sculpture of Smith surrounded by bluestone-capped seat walls, traditional benches and a variety of flowers, plants and trees.

New bagel shop comes to Pikesville

The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., a Boca Raton-based, fast-casual restaurant concept with more than 10 locations in four states, recently opened its first Maryland location at Hooks Village, a mixed-use office and retail project in Pikesville. The restaurant uses a proprietary treatment technology that replicates the purity, taste and temperature of water found in Brooklyn, N.Y. — the essential ingredient used to produce the unique taste and consistency of New York-style bagels — and offers an assortment of breakfast and lunch items including “bagelwiches” and Scooper Melts. Maryland franchisee owner and Development Agent Bob Ammon said the local partnership intends to open up to 24 locations in the Maryland region, including the Eastern Shore, over the next five years.

New $2.8M fire station completed in Glen Burnie

Construction of the Marley Fire Station, an 11,000-square-foot structure in Glen Burnie, has been completed. The fire station, which cost $2.8 million to build, houses three drive-through bays for fire and emergency response equipment, a bunkhouse, administrative offices and kitchen facilities, as well as meeting space and a small social gathering hall for use by the neighborhood community. Both volunteer and career firefighters employed with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department will be stationed at the new facility. All but $1 million of the cost of building the station was paid for by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program. Wheeler Goodman Masek was the facility’s architect, Bay Engineering was the civil engineering firm, Skarda and Associates Inc. was the structural engineer, and Mullan Contracting Co. was the general contractor.

Katzen Eye Group opens new office in Abingdon

Katzen Eye Group, Maryland’s largest private eye care practice, has opened its newest office at 3401 Box Hill Corporate Center Drive in Abingdon. The facility replaces a temporary location several doors down, where Katzen physicians and medical staff have been seeing patients since November 2011. The 9,000-square-foot office provides a variety of subspecialties including pediatric ophthalmology, retinal care, glaucoma services, oculoplastics and aesthetics, as well as the latest in clinical and diagnostic technology. Katzen has scheduled an open house on July 26 for community residents to tour the facility and meet the doctors.

Immersion Consulting moves headquarters

Immersion Consulting, a provider of program management and technology advisory services, has moved its headquarters in Annapolis to a new, three-story, 12,034-square-foot building at 2200 Somerville Road, next to the Annapolis Towne Centre. The company said the move is in response to its expanding government customer portfolio. Founded in 2005, the company has 49 employees and has seen record growth. Revenue totaled $4.1 million in 2010 and $8.5 million in 2011. “The new office is in close proximity to both Navy operations in Annapolis and federal facilities in D.C., allowing our employees to do what they do best — fully immerse themselves in our customers’ mission to provide top-notch solutions,” said Immersion co-founder and President Mary Ahern-Snyder.

Second Liberty Exchange office building completed

Construction has been completed on a 25,000-square-foot office building at 5963 Exchange Drive in Eldersburg, the property owner, St. John Properties Inc., announced. The building is in Liberty Exchange, a mixed-use business community located near the intersection of MD Routes 32 and 26 (Liberty Road). Baltimore-based St. John has delivered four buildings totaling 120,000 square feet of space at the business park, its first venture into the Carroll County marketplace. Upon completion, Liberty Exchange will be a corporate campus comprised of nine buildings offering approximately 225,000 square feet of office and R&D/flex space, plus retail space that will primarily service tenants and employees of the business community.

Papyrus gift store opens in Annapolis

Schurman Retail Group, a California-based specialty gifts company, announced the opening of a Papyrus store in the Annapolis Mall, the fifth such store in Maryland. The 1,096-square-foot store offers greeting cards, stationery and gifts, as well as personalized wrapping services. The store also features the newly launched NIQUEA.D brand, offering jewelry, accessories and gifts. Other Papyrus stores are located in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Columbia and Towson. Schurman Retail Group, a family-owned company founded in 1950 as an importer of European paper products, operates more than 400 retail stores throughout North America carrying the Papyrus, NIQUEA.D, Carlton Cards and American Greetings brands.

Howard Bank opens second Annapolis office

Howard Bank has opened an expanded Anne Arundel County branch on Defense Highway in Annapolis. The bank has had a commercial branch on Annapolis Exchange Parkway since 2010, but that branch is unable to do cash transactions, said Howard Bank Vice President and Marketing Manager Timothy S. Rozalski. “We opened the new branch to further service our Annapolis area customers. With a full service branch, we can meet all of their banking needs,” he noted. Founded in August 2004, Howard Bank has six offices in Annapolis, Columbia, Ellicott City and Maple Lawn.

Thrift superstore coming to Parkville

Savers Inc., of Bellevue, Wash., the largest privately held thrift store chain in North America, has signed a lease with Towson-based Heritage Properties Inc. to open a thrift superstore at 1925 East Joppa Road in Parkville, the site of a former Giant Food supermarket. The store — Savers’ entry into Maryland — has a target opening of spring 2013, according to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who applauded Saver’s impending arrival and promise of 40 new jobs. Savers will partner with a local nonprofit organization, and will pay the organization for every item donated at the store’s Community Donation Center, as well as for items donated directly to the nonprofit.

DiamondRock agrees to purchase 4 hotels

DiamondRock Hospitality Co., of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that owns upscale and luxury hotels, said it has entered into an agreement to acquire a portfolio of four hotels from affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VI for approximately $495 million. The hotels — the Hilton Boston, the Westin Washington D.C., the Westin San Diego and the Hilton Burlington in Burlington, Vt. — have a combined 1,462 rooms. DiamondRock will pay for the transaction with borrowings under its senior unsecured credit facility, cash on hand, net proceeds from a public equity offering, and the issuance of $75 million worth of shares of common stock to Blackstone in a private placement.

Possible water main break detected early

Officials of the Baltimore Department of Public Works said they used “advanced electronic technologies” to spot a potential failure on a 16-foot section of a 54-inch water transmission main that runs from the Ashburton Water Filtration Plant southwest to Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Officials said valves have been partially closed to reduce stress on the main. Following testing, repairs are expected to begin toward the end of the week. Some temporary service interruption could occur as sections are replaced, and officials are asking residents in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties to immediately take steps to conserve water.

Solar construction starts at Md. prison

(AP) Construction of one of Maryland’s largest solar energy projects has begun at a state prison complex near Hagerstown. Gov. Martin O’Malley joined a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday for the 20-megawatt array of solar panels on 160 acres of state-owned land near the Maryland Correctional Institution. Officials say the 100,000 photovoltaic panels will be capable of generating enough electricity during peak operation to power 2,700 homes. The $70 million project was announced in May 2011 by Maryland Solar LLC of Easton. That company was acquired earlier this year by First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Ariz.

Pebblebrook acquires 2 West Coast hotels

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, of Bethesda, a lodging real estate investment trust, said it has bought two West Coast hotels for $63 million. Pebblebrook paid $32.5 million for the Hotel Vintage Park Seattle, a 124-room, AAA four-diamond, full-service boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Seattle’s retail and financial center. The REIT also acquired the 117-room Hotel Vintage Plaza Portland, also an AAA four-diamond, full-service boutique hotel located in downtown Portland, Ore., paying $30.5 million. Both properties will continue to be managed by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. The pair of hotels brings to 23 the total number of properties in Pebblebrook’s portfolio.

New solar system opens in Kent County

An innovative solar energy system was dedicated Tuesday at Worton in Kent County. The Worton solar array, installed by Rockville-based Standard Solar Inc., and owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Services Inc., is the first public sector solar system to make use of Maryland’s new aggregate, net-metering law that allows one solar system to serve facilities at various locations. Electricity produced by the array will be used at Worton Elementary School, Kent County High School, KCHS Radio’s antenna, the Kent County Community Center and the County Public Works Facility north of Chestertown. The ground-mounted system is built on land owned by the Kent County Board of Education.

JBG named as 2012 Developer of the Year

The JBG Cos., of Chevy Chase, has been selected as the national 2012 Developer of the Year by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. JBG invests almost exclusively in urban-infill, transit-oriented developments, and has developed, owned or managed more than 30 million square feet of office space, 15,000 multifamily residential units, 5.5 million square feet of retail space and 15 hotel properties totaling over 4,500 rooms. JBG is developing or redeveloping approximately 8.5 million square feet of office space, 13,200 multifamily units, 2.2 million square feet of retail space and 2,500 hotel rooms throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

Marriott to open first hotel in Sri Lanka

Marriott International Inc., of Bethesda, the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, said it signed an agreement with Weligama Hotel Properties Ltd., a fully owned subsidiary of East West Properties PLC, a Sri Lankan commercial real estate developer, to open a hotel in Sri Lanka. The 200-room, 11-story Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa will be Marriott’s first property on the Indian Ocean island. It will be operated under Marriott’s flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand. Located 89.5 miles from Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo, Weligama is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its sandy beaches. The hotel is expected to open in 2014.

Downtown hotel seen as aid to Frederick

(AP) A state-funded study has concluded that conditions are favorable for a proposed hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick. The study, which was commissioned by the city and the Maryland Stadium Authority, concluded that a 200-room hotel would generate more than $1 million in tax revenue and help meet the rapidly rising demand for rooms in the area, the Frederick News-Post reported. Crossroads Consulting Services of Tampa, Fla., did the study, which was paid for by $20,000 from the state and $5,000 from the city. First-term Republican Mayor Randy McClement made a downtown hotel and conference center a key part of his 2009 election campaign.

Siena School has room to expand

The Siena School, a private school in Silver Spring that serves college-bound students with language-based learning difficulties, said it purchased the Boys and Girls Club building in Silver Spring for an undisclosed price. The property will provide Siena with a gym, playing field, playground and space to expand beyond its current enrollment of 80 students in grades 4-12. A special zoning exception granted to the school in April allows it to gradually increase enrollment to 225 students over three phases of growth. Siena plans to move from its current location nearby once the Phase I renovation is completed in the late fall.


Computer Sciences Corp. has signed a lease with St. John Properties Inc. for 26,000 square feet of space at 6200 Guardian Gateway, a three-story, 75,000-square-foot Class “A” office building located within The Government and Technology Enterprise (GATE) project, a 416-acre business community located inside Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. The Falls Church, Va.-based defense contractor plans to relocate from its existing 20,000-square-foot space at the Water’s Edge Corporate Campus in Aberdeen by third-quarter 2012.

Advance Realty, a privately held real estate development, investment and management company headquartered in Bedminster, N.J., said three companies have signed leases for additional space at Metro East Office Park in Landover. They are:

* SAIC, a Fortune 500 scientific, engineering and technology applications company, leased 4,312 square feet of space at 8400 Corporate Drive, where it already occupies part of the 149, 170-square-foot building. Amanda Davis of Jones Lang LaSalle represented SAIC in the transaction.

* Rehab at Work Inc., a physical therapy and industrial rehabilitation company, renewed its lease at 8200 Professional Place, expanding to 5,227 square feet at the one-story, 28,601-square-foot building.

* Construction firm Clark Construction signed a 2,857-square-foot lease, expanding its space at 8100 Professional Place, a three-story, 55,4730-square-foot building.

Metro East Office Park is an eight-building office development containing approximately 450,000 square feet of space. Rob Pugh and Ken Fellows, principals of Edge Commercial Real Estate, serve as exclusive leasing agents for Metro East Office Park.



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