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Real Estate Weekly – 7/5/13

Beazer Homes acquires 220 home sites in Laurel

Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA, one of the nation’s top 10 home builders, announced it has acquired 220 home sites in Laurel and plans to build a new community called Wincopia Farms, consisting of single-family homes priced to start in the upper $600,000s, and two-car garage townhomes starting in the mid-$500,000s. According to Beazer, there will be 49 townhomes with 2,000-plus square feet, and 171 single family homes, of which 88 will be 2,500-3,500 square feet and 83 will be 4,000 square feet. Sales are expected to begin in early 2014 with the first settlements in the fall of that year. Fraser Forbes Real Estate Services of McLean, Va., brokered the sale of the land.

General Dynamics IT leases more space in Towson

Cushman & Wakefield announced that General Dynamics Information Technology Inc. signed a lease extension and expansion totaling 146,345 square feet at 1 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in Towson. The company, formerly known as VIPs, is the anchor tenant of the 10-story office tower at Towson Commons, which is currently undergoing significant renovations to its retail space, including the addition of a 48,000-square-foot full-service fitness facility to be operated by L.A. Fitness. GDIT expanded by approximately 25,000 square feet of space. The total office building is 232,000 square feet, and currently has 27,000 square feet available for lease on several floors, according to C&W. C&W’s David Baird and Tim Jackson represented the landlord, Towson Commons HH LLC. The tenant was represented by Steve Masterman of CBRE.

Sellmore Industries acquired by Wis. firm

ABC Supply Co., of Beloit, Wis., one of the largest wholesale distributors of building supplies in the United States, announced that it has acquired the distribution assets of Sellmore Industries, of Halethorpe. Sellmore is a distributor of steep-slope roofing, siding and windows, with locations in Halethorpe, Hagerstown, Philadelphia and Buffalo, N.Y. David Luck, ABC Supply’s CEO, said the acquisition “will expand and strengthen ABC Supply’s existing presence in these markets.” Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Sellmore Industries’ vinyl window manufacturing operation in Buffalo was not part of the acquisition, and will continue functioning as a separate entity. ABC Supply will sell and promote its products.

Beazer’s Maryland Division receives ENERGY STAR Award

The Maryland Division of Beazer Homes USA Inc. announced that it has received a 2013 ENERGY STAR Leadership in Housing Award in recognition of the division’s energy-efficient construction practices. Every home built by Beazer is “ENERGY STAR Certified,” providing its homeowners with significant cost savings in the form of lower utility bills. To achieve this certification, each Beazer home is inspected, tested and verified by an independent energy rater to confirm its design and construction meets or exceeds the strict requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Red Robin Burgers to open in Gambrills

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc., of Greenwood Village, Colo., said it will open a new restaurant at the Waugh Chapel Shopping Center in Gambrills on July 15. To mark the occasion, Red Robin will donate all proceeds from sales of its Freckled Lemonade — a blend of strawberries and Minute Maid lemonade — during the week of July 15 to July 21 to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for kids with cancer. The Waugh Chapel location will be Red Robin’s 11th in the Baltimore area. Nationwide there are 475 Red Robin locations across the United States and Canada.

COPT says leasing outpaces forecast

Corporate Office Properties Trust, of Columbia, said it executed leases for over 1 million square feet of space during the second quarter of 2013. Of the total, nearly 600,000 square feet were new leases, including over 460,000 square feet of new leases for properties under construction before or during the second quarter. As a result, the company’s construction pipeline, which was 62 percent pre-leased at March 31, 2013, was 74 percent leased on June 30, 2013. Roger A. Waesche Jr., COPT’s president and CEO, said “development leasing [is] outpacing our forecast for the year.” COPT is an office real estate investment trust primarily serving U.S. government agencies and defense contractors.

Principals to build school’s playground

Elementary and middle-school principals from around the country will take some time from a national conference in Baltimore next week to build a playground at the John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School in Greektown. About 100 K-8 principals are expected to take part in the community service event on July 10. The school has 672 pre-K through 8th-grade students, and a diverse student body. Eighty-eight percent of the students receive free or reduced-price lunches, 46 percent are English-language learners, and 53 percent are Hispanic. The principals are attending the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Best Practices for Better Schools annual conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Thayer Lodging buys San Francisco hotel

Host Hotels & Resorts, of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on luxury and upscale hotels, announced the sale of the 336-room Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco for approximately $161 million. The buyer is an investment vehicle sponsored by Thayer Lodging Group, of Annapolis, a real estate venture capital company that specializes in hotels and the hospitality industry. Host said it will use the proceeds to fund future acquisitions and for general corporate purposes. Gregory J. Larson, Host’s chief financial officer, said the hotel sold at an “attractive price.” He noted, “This brings our total dispositions since the beginning of last year to over $600 million.”

Marriott to expand mobile check-in

Marriott Hotels, the signature brand of Bethesda-based Marriott International Inc., announced plans to begin mobile check-in at all of its 325 Marriott-brand hotels later this summer. Now launched at 31 Marriott-brand hotels, this will represent the broadest mobile offering of its kind in the U.S. and Canada, according to the company. The mobile check-in feature is part of the free Marriott mobile app available in the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play. Future innovations currently being tested at Marriott’s “mobile incubator” hotels include checkout and guest service requests. As the brand grows internationally, Marriott also plans to expand mobile guest services outside the U.S. and Canada.

Chesapeake Hospitality portfolio grows

Chesapeake Hospitality, of Greenbelt, an independent hotel management company, announced that it has taken over management of the Hilton Garden Inn Fort Myers in Fort Myers, Fla., just as the hotel is embarking on a $3 million renovation project. Updates will include all 126 guestrooms and the hotel’s lobby. Chesapeake now has 24 properties in its management portfolio, up from 11 in 2011. The company6 manages properties under the Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental Hotel Group brands.

Allegany Co. broadband overhaul funded

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners received a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to improve and upgrade digital communication infrastructure through the AllCoNet Backbone Microwave Link Upgrade. In addition to the grant, the project will be locally funded at a level of $300,000, bringing the total funding to $600,000. The AllCoNet Network currently provides broadband service to numerous public entities including schools, 911 call centers, local first responders, as well as more than 40 businesses and a large residential market. The ARC grant was announced by U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, both Maryland Democrats.

Forrester completes D.C. museum rehab

Forrester Construction Co., of Rockville, announced it has completed an $18 million renovation of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Part of a comprehensive multi-phase restoration of the museum’s aging infrastructure, the 30-month, 36,000-square-foot project included construction of new exhibit spaces and renovation of the education, library, office, lab and child care areas. The project has won numerous Washington Building Congress craftsmanship awards. Public areas will open in July.

Carroll Co. to pick up stormwater fee

(AP) Carroll County will use county funding to contribute to a state-mandated stormwater remediation effort instead of implementing a fee for individual residents and businesses. The county Board of Commissioners decided Thursday to transfer money set aside for stormwater projects to a new “Watershed Protection and Restoration Fund.” The county has budgeted $20 million for such projects over the next six years. State lawmakers required 10 jurisdictions, including Carroll County, to establish a remediation fee for impervious surfaces by Monday, July 1, with money collected used for Chesapeake Bay cleanup. The Carroll County Times reported that Carroll is the only jurisdiction that has chosen not to implement a fee.

LEASES 

Cassidy Turley announced The Resource Group Counseling and Education Center Inc. leased 1,551 square feet of office space at 1615 York Road in Towson. The Resource Group provides research-based psychotherapeutic interventions to help people improve the quality of their lives. The main office is located at 7801 York Road in Towson. The new office will provide intensive outpatient and early intervention services to those recovering from substance abuse. The Resource Group was represented in the transaction by Andrew McIlvaine of Cassidy Turley. The landlord is Mid Atlantic Properties.