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Real Estate Weekly – 8/2/13

AirPatrol Corp. chooses to remain in Howard County

Maple LawnHoward County officials announced that AirPatrol Corp., a manufacturer of location-based security systems, will remain based in the county, but is moving and expanding its headquarters from Columbia to St. John Properties’ Maple Lawn Corporate Center. The company chose to keep its operations in Howard County after considering other locations in both Maryland and Virginia. AirPatrol provides location-based mobile and wireless products to both private busineses and government agencies. AirPatrol will move into 5,168 square feet of space at 8171 Maple Lawn Blvd., a three-story, 86,000-square-foot office building. Maple Lawn Corporate Center is a 600-acre, mixed-use business community that St. John Properties is developing in a joint venture partnership with Greenebaum Enterprises Inc. St. John Properties’ Rick Williamson represented the landlord and David R. Sciamarelli of MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services represented the tenant in the lease transaction.

Long-vacant police station transformed into apartments

Baltimore city and state officials were on hand on Tuesday, July 30, to witness a topping-off ceremony that signified the completion of the transformation of an abandoned 19th century police station in Fells Point into a 47-unit apartment complex. Built around the time of the Civil War to house one of the city’s oldest district headquarters, the long-vacant brick building is listed on the National Historic Register. Developers, including former Baltimore Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, used historical photos to ensure the exterior matched the original building. Financing for the $13.6 million Fells Point Station Apartment project was made possible in part through low income housing tax credits and more than $1.1 million from the state’s rental housing production program.

NAI KLNB brokers sale of Millersville industrial building

NAI KLNBNAI KLNB, a Columbia-based commercial real estate brokerage, said it handled the sale of 403 Serendipity Drive, a 10,900-square-foot industrial building in the Millersville section of Anne Arundel County for $1.1 million. The building, which sits on a 1.34-acre parcel overlooking Interstate 97, near Najoles Road and Benfield Boulevard, features 18-foot clear ceiling heights, three grade-level drive-in doors and column-free construction. Vironex, a company that provides specialized field services to the environmental consulting community, including remediation, membrane interface probe and subsurface sample collection services, plans to move into the building from its current location in Bowie. The buyer of the building, Spanos LLC, is the holding company for Vironex. George Santos and Luke Allen, formerly associated with Manekin LLC, represented Spanos, and Bill Martien of NAI KLNB represented the seller, The Michael M. Bogdon Living Trust.

Jones Lang LaSalle doubles office space

Jones Lang LaSalle, a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate, announced it is relocating its Baltimore office from 6,000 square feet of space at 7 St. Paul St. to twice that amount — 12,000 square feet of space — at 500 E. Pratt St., in Baltimore’s central business district. Built in 2005, 500 E. Pratt St. is a 275,000-square-foot office tower that is part of the Lockwood Place mixed-use development at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It features on-site parking and numerous amenities. “The new location will facilitate the firm’s rapid growth and allow Jones Lang LaSalle to better serve its clients, interface with business partners and create a high-quality work environment for our associates,” said Mark Levy, Jones Lang LaSalle’s market director, Baltimore.

Baltimore County officials unveil plans for $3 million PAL Center in Cockeysville

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore County Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance on Tuesday, July 30, announced plans to build a $3 million, 14,260-square-foot Padonia Community/Police Athletic League (PAL) Center adjacent to Padonia International Elementary School at 9834 Greenside Drive in Cockeysville. The Padonia Community/PAL Center will replace a PAL center located across the street from the school. Construction is expected to begin in January 2014 and be completed in one year. Padonia International Elementary School is a community-based school that follows the traditional BCPS curriculum. The word “International” was added to the school’s name to reflect its significant diversity. Padonia International families come from more than 30 countries, and almost 25 percent of the students participate in English for Speakers of Other Languages services. The Police Athletic League offers educational and athletic programs for youths ages 8-17 at nine centers throughout Baltimore County.

U.S. Army selects EA Engineering for environmental remediation work

EA Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc., a Hunt Valley-based provider of interdisciplinary environmental services, announced that it has been awarded an Environmental Remediation Multiple Award contract in support of the U.S. Army Environmental Command. The five-year contract has a maximum joint total acquisition value of $240 million to be executed among eight contract holders in the Small Business Portfolio. The contract term consists of a base award of one year plus four one-year options. Work is expected to be conducted throughout the United States, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tasks to be performed include site characterization and remedial investigations, feasibility studies, remedial design, remedial action construction, remediation of contaminated sites, operations and maintenance, and long-term management. EA was awarded the first task order under the Small Business Portfolio, calling for completion of a remedial investigation/feasibility study for vapor intrusion at the Aberdeen and Edgewood Areas of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

County acts to correct flooding in commercial areas of Cockeysville

This coming Sunday, Aug. 4, workers will demolish a partially collapsed distillery in Cockeysville, as part of a county initiative to correct severe flooding that has repeatedly damaged businesses along a commercial stretch of York Road and Beaver Run Lane, it was announced by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. The county purchased the property, located at 10919 York Road, for $453,663. In addition to razing the building, the county will regrade the property to mitigate the degradation of the Beaver Dam Run, a tributary that flows into the Loch Raven Reservoir, which provides drinking water for Baltimore city and county. The full project, funded by a $4 million federal grant, will also include acquisition and demolition of additional commercial buildings, including relocation of businesses to sites outside of the Cockeysville floodplain. The acquired properties will be preserved in perpetuity as passive open space, recreational or wetland areas.

D.C. firm buys Columbia office complex

Rivers Business CommonsCushman & Wakefield of Maryland Inc. announced it brokered the sale of the Rivers Business Commons, a four-building office complex in Columbia, to Fernau LeBlanc Investment Partners. The buyer is a Washington, D.C.-based real estate owner and operator that invests in industrial and flex/single-story office buildings, and the seller is an affiliate of Greenfield Partners, a private investment firm based in Norwalk, Conn. Details of the transaction, including financials, were not disclosed. The four-building property consists of single and two-story structures containing 101,596 square feet of space, which are currently 87 percent leased. Tenants include Saint Agnes Hospital, Black & Veatch and Beazer Homes. C&W’s capital markets team of Cristopher Abramson, Brian Kruger, Nicholas Signor and Jonathon Chalkley coordinated the disposition of Rivers Business Commons on behalf of the seller.

Choice Hotels’ sees less profit in 2Q

Choice Hotels International Inc., of Rockville, a hotel franchise chain whose brands include Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge and Quality Inn, reported second-quarter net income of $28.2 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, an 11.6 percent drop from the $31.9 million, or 55 cents per share, in the year-before period. Revenue rose 6 percent to $183.6 million, compared to last year’s $173.6 million. Wall Street analysts forecast, on average, earnings of 46 cents per share and revenue of $181 million. Revenue per available room, or RevPAR, a key performance measure for hotel companies, rose 3.5 percent on increases in occupancy and daily room rates.

COPT’s results weaken in second quarter

Corporate Office Properties Trust, of Columbia, an office-focused real estate investment trust, reported Funds From Operations of $31.7 million for the second quarter, or 25 cents per diluted share, versus FFO of $46.1 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, for the same period last year. Revenue rose to $140.5 million, from $127.7 million in last year’s second quarter. Analysts had projected earnings of 22 cents per share on revenue of $97.75 million. Company officials projected confidence. Roger A. Waesche Jr., COPT’s president and CEO, called it “a strong second quarter” and said the company is “on-track to exceed our leasing objectives for the year.”

BGE says utility-pole inspections cost millions

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said it will spend more than $15 million in 2013 in the inspection, treatment and replacement of wooden utility poles. It expects to inspect more than 36,000 poles this year and to replace nearly 1,800 of them. In 2012, BGE replaced more than 1,200 poles in areas of Baltimore city, and Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties. This year BGE crews will also be examining utility poles in parts of Anne Arundel County. Inspection, treatment and/or replacement are part of BGE’s Pole Inspection and Treatment Program, to ensure that proper maintenance is conducted for each pole, according to the company.

Kamenetz names Herbst to county Planning Board

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the appointment of Jonathan Herbst, an attorney specializing in business and real estate, as a new member of the Baltimore County Planning Board. Herbst is filling the unexpired term of Ed Gilliss, who resigned as Planning Board chair to take a seat on the Baltimore County Board of Education. Herbst is a senior associate with the Towson firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid. He graduated from what was then the University of Maryland School of Law in 2003. The 15-member Planning Board plays a major role in formulating the county’s capital program and budget, the county master plan and other land use functions.

Phillips named to chair Planning Board

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz also announced he will nominate current Planning Board member Scott Phillips as chair of the all-volunteer board, succeeding Ed Gillis. The appointment to the chairperson’s post needs County Council confirmation. Phillips is an attorney specializing in business development for minority firms. He has served on the Planning Board since October 2012. He is a 1989 graduate of the UM School of Law. He holds a B.S. degree in accounting from Virginia Union University. Phillips founded Black Professional Men Inc., and has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Family League of Baltimore and the Maryland Family Network.

Planned Cecil County power plant advances

Virginia-based Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, which is seeking to build a natural gas-fired power plant near Rising Sun in Cecil County, said it has selected Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. to supply two natural gas-powered turbines and associated electric generators for installation at the so-called Wildcat Point project. The plant, which ODEC says will be one of the cleanest natural gas facilities of its size in Maryland, will generate approximately 1,000 megawatts, enough to power 390,000 homes in the region annually. Plans call for the new plant to be built adjacent to ODEC’s existing Rock Springs facility, and to go online in 2017.

U.S. home prices gain most in six years
U.S. home prices jumped 12.2 percent in May compared with a year ago, the biggest annual gain since March 2006. The increase shows the housing recovery is strengthening. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday also surged 2.4 percent in May from April. The month-over-month gain nearly matched the 2.6 percent increase in April from March — the highest on record. The price increases were widespread. All 20 cities showed gains in May from April and compared with a year ago. Steady price increases, along with stable job gains and historically low mortgage rates, have in turn encouraged more Americans to buy homes.

Marriott posts higher earnings in 2Q

(AP) Marriott International Inc., of Bethesda, the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel company, reported higher second-quarter earnings on continued business and leisure travel and increased room rates. Marriott earned $179 million, or 57 cents a share, in the three-month period ended June 30, versus $143 million, or 42 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 18 percent to $3.26 billion. Analysts expected earnings of 57 cents per share and revenue of $3.20 billion, according to FactSet. A change in the company’s fiscal year meant seven extra days in the quarter this year compared to last year. Revenue per available room, a key hotel industry performance indicator, rose 4.4 percent to $129.59.

MARBIDCO announces grants opportunity

The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corp. announced the availability of matching-fund grants aimed at encouraging Maryland’s agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and must have been in business for a minimum of two years. Grants can be up to $15,000 to install capital assets that make a value-added product, such as production buildings, livestock, seafood, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, and creamery production equipment. For information on applying for a grant, go to www.marbidco.org/applications.html.