Real Estate Weekly – 10/26/12

SECU opens branch at UMB downtown campus

SECU, Maryland’s largest state-chartered financial cooperative, celebrated the opening of a new branch on the University of Maryland Baltimore campus at 418 W. Baltimore St. with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday. The branch offers an “open hours” full-service lobby, including touch screen banking kiosks and check-writing stations. Three full-service imaging ATMS allow customers to deposit cash or checks without having to use envelopes. SECU has 21 branches and 104 ATM locations throughout Maryland, and provides access to more than 68,000 surcharge-free ATMs through the CO-OP and Allpoint networks.

St. John Properties honored by BOMA

St. John Properties Inc. captured five honors in the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Baltimore’s “2012 Outstanding Building of the Year Awards.” The competition, sponsored by BOMA every other year, recognizes excellence in building management by evaluating such categories as budget and fiscal responsibility, staff structure, energy management, building systems maintenance, life safety, environmental initiatives and overall exceptional service. St. John’s awards were for Corporate Building of the Year for the company’s headquarters building; Industrial/Flex Building Award of Excellence for Maple Lawn Corporate Center; Suburban Office Park Award for Maple Lawn Office Buildings I, II, III and IV; Pinnacle Award for Community Impact for its headquarters building; and Environmental Initiative Award for Maple Lawn Corporate Center.

Downtown Columbia Master Plan wins award from American Planning Assn.

The Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association recognized Howard County Government’s Downtown Columbia Master Plan as the winner of its 2012 Planners’ Choice Award in the great planning category. The award recognizes the county’s vision and collaborative planning efforts to revitalize Downtown Columbia. The Downtown Columbia Master Plan was chosen from a number of entries for excellence in planning processes and projects across the state. The category includes innovative public process and comprehensive community, downtown improvement, management, infrastructure and conservation and preservation planning.

Howard County to build complex to house homeless individuals

The Howard County Housing Commission announced that, in accordance with the county’s Plan to End Homelessness, it has acquired land in North Laurel to build a complex of 33 small efficiency apartments to provide housing for individuals who are desperately in need of permanent supportive housing. The persons eligible for occupancy in this complex consist of chronically homeless individuals who are currently without housing. A day resource center will also be located in this facility to better serve the needs of the residents and the county’s homeless population. The commission will partner with the Volunteers of America Chesapeake to develop, construct and operate the facility. Volunteers of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential, will provide the daily support services needed to help stabilize individuals experiencing life crises. The property contains the Beechcrest mobile home park on Route 1, north of Whiskey Bottom Road. The commission plans to close the park in one year and will provide relocation assistance to the current residents.

Marriott plans expansion in Russia and CIS

Marriott International Inc., of Bethesda, the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, said it is on track to double its portfolio in Europe from 40,000 to 80,000 rooms by 2015. Much of the growth stems from new development in Russia and its former Soviet satellites, now known as the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, Marriott officials said at a hotel conference in Moscow. Marriott operates 19 hotels in Russia and the CIS across six lodging brands, and has committed to opening an additional 11 hotels over the next three years.

Kamenetz names Phillips to county Planning Board

N. Scott Phillips, of Woodstock, has been appointed by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to a vacant seat on the Baltimore County Planning Board. Phillips, an attorney, concentrates his legal practice on business development for minority firms. His development law experience includes zoning, permitting, landlord tenant cases, property acquisitions and government relations. A 1989 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, he holds a B.S. degree in accounting from Virginia Union University. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Marriott hotels set for China golf site

Mission Hills Group, a Chinese real estate development company, said it has teamed up with Bethesda-based Marriott International Inc. to develop two luxury hotels at its Mission Hills Haikou golf complex at Shenzhen. Costing approximately $208 million, the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance hotels will both open to the public in the second quarter of 2015. This will be the first golf hotel management project operated by Marriott International in the Greater China region. The Ritz-Carlton, with 180 rooms and 20 guest villas, will feature traditional Oriental design blended with contemporary living. The 300-room Renaissance Hotel will be both modern and sophisticated in style.

Carroll County approves underground conveyor

The Carroll County Commissioners unanimously approved a zoning amendment enabling the Lehigh Cement Co. to build a 4.4-mile, underground conveyor system to move stone from its quarry near New Windsor to its plant in Union Bridge. When completed in several years, it will carry about 12,000 tons of stone a day from the quarry to the plant. Lehigh said it needs to get material from the new quarry after its quarry in Union Bridge plays out in about eight years. The company said the conveyor will be 10 to 60 feet underground, and is preferable to trucks or trains.

First Potomac closes on secured financing

First Potomac Realty Trust, of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that owns office and industrial properties in the Greater Washington area, said it closed on a $22 million mortgage loan with EagleBank. The loan is secured by the Greyhound Bus Terminal property at 1005 First St. N.E. in Washington. The two-year, interest-only mortgage has a one-year extension option, with a variable interest rate of LIBOR plus 2.75 percent, and a floor of 5 percent. Most of the net proceeds were used to repay a portion of the balance outstanding under the company’s unsecured revolving credit facility, and the remainder for general corporate purposes.

New Carrollton out as housing agency site

(AP) Maryland is no longer planning to build a new headquarters for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development in New Carrollton. State officials have been unable to negotiate an acceptable lease, the Washington Post reported. They’re now looking for a new site. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said in a statement that the state remains committed to moving the department’s headquarters to Prince George’s County. The New Carrollton project had fallen months behind schedule. Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the department’s relocation to New Carrollton in 2010. DCHD is currently headquartered in Crownsville. The move was hailed by Prince George’s leaders as a transit-oriented project that would bring amenities to the county.

Ruppert Landscape acquires Kensington-based company

Ruppert Landscape Inc., of Laytonsville, a provider of commercial landscape installation and management services, said it has acquired The Watchman Group Inc., of Kensington. Watchman is focused on project management and site development for sports fields and golf courses, including building structures, infrastructure and wastewater treatment facilities. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Watchman founder Jim Wachter will join Ruppert as a senior project manager. Wachter has worked with Ruppert in a consulting capacity for the past eight years, and has been a special project manager on several of Ruppert’s largest projects.

Apartment projects aided by Bethesda firm

Walker & Dunlop Inc., of Bethesda, a source of loans for multifamily residential real estate projects, said it provided $70.2 million in Fannie Mae financing to Philadelphia-based Reinhold Residential for a portfolio of historic properties converted to Class A multifamily residential buildings. The seven garden-style properties, with more than 628 units, are located in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and West Chester, Pa. All of the properties are included on the National Registry of Historic Buildings, and all but two were former commercial or industrial buildings that were converted into apartments nearly 20 years ago. Reinhold Residential’s properties include the Sail Cloth Factory luxury apartment building in Baltimore.

Design plans unveiled for Harford arts center

(AP) Hugh Hardy, an architect who guided restorations of New York’s Radio City Music Hall and Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre, unveiled designs for Harford County’s new $60 million Center for the Arts. The Baltimore Sun reported the plans call for a building that can accommodate theater, dance, music, visual arts and education programs. It will include a 1,200-seat theater, a 400-seat theater, a black box theater, art galleries and a museum of county history. Organizers hope to open it by 2018. Construction will be funded with a combination of county, state and private dollars. Maryland native Emily Bayless Graham donated land to the county to build a cultural center.

COPT reports loss despite higher revenue

Corporate Office Properties Trust, of Columbia, reported a third-quarter net loss despite a gain in revenue. The company, a real estate investment trust focused on serving the federal government and defense information technology sectors, reported a net loss attributable to common shareholders of $28.1 million, or 39 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.5 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, for the year-ago period. COPT attributed the loss primarily to impairment charges of $55.8 million associated with non-strategic operating properties. Funds from operations, a key measure of a REIT’s financial performance, increased slightly to $40.6 million from $39.1 million in the prior-year quarter. Revenue totaled $114.9 million in the 2012 quarter versus $108 million in the 2011 period.

UFood opens second restaurant at APG

UFood Restaurant Group Inc., a Boston-based franchisor and operator of fast-casual, healthier-menu restaurants, announced the opening of its second UFood Grill at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The company was awarded a contract by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to build and operate three new UFood Grill eateries at the Harford County base. The new unit, located in the base’s PX building, is a 1,220-square-foot express grill that will serve a variety of healthy-food options, including breakfast paninis, fire-grilled burgers, signature flatbread sandwiches and specialty salads, along with fat-free frozen yogurt and fresh fruit and yogurt smoothies.


Cassidy Turley brokered One Dish Cuisine’s 2,845-square-foot lease at 8001 Hillsborough Drive in Ellicott City. One Dish Cuisine produces food that is free of the top eight food allergens for restaurants, retail stores and hospitals. It also operates One Dish Cuisine Café, Deli and Bakery at this location. “We collaborated with One Dish Cuisine for over a year to find the right location,” said Robert Oare, senior vice president/principal at Cassidy Turley. “One Dish Cuisine is a specialty food service provider with a growing business in the Baltimore/Washington corridor. They required closed restaurant space with equipment in place and 8001 Hillsborough Drive fit their needs.” Oare and Alan Orman, members of Cassidy Turley’s Food & Beverage Facilities Practice Group, represented One Dish Cuisine. Preston Sappington of Taylor Property Group represented the landlord, Taylor Family Limited Partners.

Cassidy Turley also announced that Saf-T-Pak has leased 11,200 square feet at 7466 Candlewood Road, a 95,530-square-foot office/warehouse building in Hanover. A subsidiary of Cantel, Saf-T-Pak provides regulatory training and packaging to help ensure public safety in the transportation of certain infectious substances and related materials. Jarred Testa, Michael Walsh and Tilghman Herring of Cassidy Turley’s Core Industrial Leasing Team represented Saf-T-Pak in this assignment. CBRE represented the landlord, TIAA CREF.

Merritt Properties LLC reported the following recently negotiated leases:

D&L International Inc., a furniture importer, leased 3,072 square feet of warehouse and distribution space at 832 Oregon Ave., in Linthicum. D&L was represented by Brian Siegel of Transwestern. Also, Lagniappe Pharmacy Services, a supplier of software solutions for the health care industry, leased 1,100 square feet of office space at Columbia Corporate Park, 8850 Stanford Blvd., in Columbia. Cassidy Turley’s Scott Matthews represented Lagniappe. A third lease involved Professional Cleaning and Innovative Building Services Inc., a commercial glazing company, which leased 3,300 square feet of warehouse space at 3741 Old Georgetown Road in Arbutus. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Liz Tarran-Jones, Vince Bagli and Steve Shaw represented the landlord, Merritt Properties, in all three of these transactions.

Merritt Properties also reported a lease agreement with Vini D’Italia LLC, a wine distributor, at 1981 Moreland Parkway, Building 4B, in the Annapolis Business Park. The tenant will occupy 2,700 square feet of warehouse and distribution space. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the landlord in the transaction.


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