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Real Estate Weekly – 8/30/13

Latest data on impact in Maryland of national mortgage servicing settlement

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced that 17,366 Maryland families have received $1.358 billion in relief from the national mortgage servicing Settlement during the period of March 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, according to the newest progress report issued by the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight. This represents approximately $460 million more in relief and assistance for distressed Maryland homeowners than originally estimated.

The benefits and assistance calculated in the report include home mortgage modifications, principal reductions, deficiency waivers, refinancing and short sale financial assistance. The latest numbers do not include more than $15 million in one-time, no-strings-attached cash payments of more than $1,480 apiece to 10,142 eligible borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011. The progress report also does not reflect benefits and assistance finalized in July and August, nor does it incorporate trial lien modifications that began during the 16 months of the settlement, which could benefit additional Maryland families.

The national settlement was the result of allegations that the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers engaged in illegal “robo-signing” of documents and a variety of other mortgage lending abuses.

To see the National Monitor’s Maryland-specific information, go to http://www.oag.state.md.us/mortgageSettlement/Monitor_Progress_Report_MD_Aug2013.pdf.

SECU launches complete home buying program

SECU, Maryland’s largest state-chartered financial cooperative, announced it is launching Homebuying360, a new program that will offer its members complete home buying services. Going well beyond mortgage rates and loans traditionally offered by financial institutions, Homebuying360 will provide SECU members with everything they need for a successful home purchase. Specifically, HomeBuying360 offers members and prospective members:

* Comprehensive home buyer education and resources;

* Access to the Multiple Listing Service for searching properties and neighborhoods;

* A list of pre-screened, experienced and trustworthy Realtors from which to choose;

* Home loan options that fit their particular needs with no application or processing fees; and

* A rebate averaging $1,500 at the home purchase closing.

SECU is able to offer Homebuying360 through a new partnership with Arizona-based CU Realty Services. Founded in 2001, CU Realty has worked with more than 100 credit unions and thousands of their members across the country. CU Realty’s range of web-based tools help home buyers find homes, calculate costs, connect to experienced real estate agents and earn a rebate. For more information about Homebuying360, visit SECU’s website at www.secumd.org/homebuying360.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy seeks accreditation from Land Trust Alliance

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy said it is applying for accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization for land trusts. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission will accept comments on ESLC’s operations as part of an extensive review of ESLC’s program. LTA states that “accreditation … provides public recognition of land trusts that are engaged in the long-term protection of the land in the public interest. It increases public awareness of, and confidence in, land trusts and land conservation.”

ESLC is committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. ESLC helps save land and promote sound land use planning from the C&D Canal in Cecil County all the way to the Nanticoke River in Dorchester County. Since 1990, ESLC has helped preserve nearly 54,000 acres.

The commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how ESLC complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org/getting-accredited/indicator-practices. To submit comments, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or mail comments to Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments, 112 Spring St., Suite 204, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments received by Aug. 31, 2013, are encouraged.

Sky Azure, new tapas lounge, opens at BWI Marshall Airport

Airmall USA, the operator of the Airmall at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, announced that Sky Azure, a contemporary new cocktail and tapas lounge, has opened in an 800-square-foot space in the airport’s recently renovated second-level Observation Gallery, adjacent to the new BC checkpoint. Visitors to Sky Azure do not have to go through security as the lounge is located in the pre-screening area.

“Sky Azure is a sophisticated new lounge where travelers can relax and enjoy a bite and a cocktail while watching planes arrive and depart on the airfield,” said Brett Kelly, vice president of Airmall Maryland. “Since Sky Azure is located pre-security, we anticipate it will become a destination for travelers and locals alike who come to enjoy the exceptional views and unique vibe.”

Healthy Start Center opens at MAC in Timonium

The Maryland Athletic Club in Timonium opened the doors this week to its 8,000-square-foot Healthy Start Center, an exclusive feature for the MAC. MAC launched the Healthy Start program in 2006 as a physician-prescribed program and opened it to the public in 2009. Healthy Start, a 60-day program, provides beginner exercisers and those who have been away from exercise for some time a supervised exercise program with MAC fitness specialists, oversight from the staff nurse and full use of the entire facility during the program for just $60. The new center features state-of-the-art exercise equipment, a space for group exercise classes, and private space for physical therapy and for the fulltime nurse. Additionally, the program makes use of all of the club’s saltwater aquatic facilities, including two therapy pools, a lap pool and a whirlpool. A public grand opening event for the center is being planned for the end of September.

W&D bridge loan funds student housing

Walker & Dunlop Inc., of Bethesda, a real estate lender focused on multifamily loans, said it provided $70 million in bridge financing for Collegetown Terrace Apartments, a newly constructed, off-campus student housing property located a half mile from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. W&D funded the 2-year, interest-only bridge loan through a subsidiary in conjunction with one of the institutional investors in its recently announced large loan bridge venture. Collegetown Terrace is being built in four phases and, once completed, will offer 1,177 beds in more than 800 units. The project will contain approximately 9 percent of Cornell’s off-campus housing.

Famous Dave’s announces new locations

Famous Dave’s of America Inc., a Minneapolis-based chain of barbeque restaurants, said it will close its Gaithersburg location on Sept. 8, when its lease on Quince Orchard Road expires, and open a new restaurant in Germantown the following week at 20660 Seneca Meadows Parkway. The 5,200-square-foot, full-service restaurant will seat 171 diners and can accommodate another 57 on a 1,600-square-foot patio. Company officials plan to open the doors for lunch on Sept. 16. Approximately two months later, Famous Dave’s will open a new, 175-seat, full-service restaurant at 2235 York Road in Timonium, just north of the Maryland State Fairgrounds. The company currently has or will have 10 restaurants in Maryland, including Germantown and Timonium.

Hagerstown ice cream plant to be acquired

(AP) A Virginia dairy cooperative says it’s buying a vacant ice-cream plant in Hagerstown that produced Good Humor bars for nearly 30 years before it closed last year. The Herald-Mail reported Tuesday that Valley Pride LLC of Harrisonburg, Va., plans to begin milk and ice cream production at the plant this fall. Vice President Randy Inman said the products will be sold under the Shenandoah Family Farms label. He said the company will begin production with 35 full-time workers. Inman declined to disclose the purchase price. The plant was closed by the British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever in July 2012. The shutdown affected 391 workers. Unilever closed the plant to consolidate production in Tennessee, Missouri and Nevada.

LaSalle purchases Key West properties

LaSalle Hotel Properties, of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that owns upscale and luxury full-service hotels, announced that it acquired the 260-room Southernmost Hotel Collection in Key West, Fla., for which it paid $184.5 million. The collection consists of the Southernmost on the Beach, Southernmost Hotel in the USA and the La Mer Hotel & Dewey House. LaSalle funded the transaction with borrowings from its senior unsecured credit facility. The property is situated directly on the Atlantic Ocean on Key West’s Duval Street. LaSalle said the property has had $13.8 million worth of renovations over the past three years. It will be operated by Highgate Hotels.

LaSalle acquires San Francisco hotel

LaSalle Hotel Properties, of Bethesda, also announced that it paid $71.5 million to acquire the Serrano Hotel in San Francisco. The company funded the transaction by drawing on its senior unsecured credit facility. The 236-room, full-service Serrano Hotel, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Theater District, includes Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen and five flexible meeting and banquet rooms. Originally built in 1928, the building was closed in 1998 and completely renovated. It reopened as the Serrano Hotel in 1999. The hotel will continue to be operated by Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, which is based in San Francisco.

Pebblebrook purchases Portland, Ore., hotel

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on luxury hotels in large U.S. cities, said it has acquired the Hotel Modera in Portland, Ore. Pebblebrook said it paid $47.5 million for the 174-room, upper-upscale, full-service hotel in downtown Portland. The seller was not identified. As part of the transaction, the REIT is assuming a $23.7 million, secured, non-recouorse loan, with the balance of the purchase price funded with available cash. Originally built in 1962, the hotel underwent a comprehensive, $13 million renovation and repositioning that was completed in 2008. It will be managed by OLS Hotels and Resorts.

School repairs half-paid by Hopkins

The Johns Hopkins University picked up half of the $1.6 million cost of upgrading two schools in Charles Village over the summer, university officials said. Baltimore City Public Schools matched the university’s contribution, allowing the Margaret Brent and Barclay elementary and middle schools to replace badly worn, inadequate, out-of-date restrooms; renovate their cafeterias; create more welcoming, attractive and secure entrances; and install windows and doors to admit more natural light. The Brent gymnasium has also been renovated, thanks to a separate gift from the family of Baltimore native and Memphis Grizzlies guard Josh Selby.

LEASES

Subaru unit leases space at Frederick business park

8430_Spires_Way.jpg_webSubaru of America Inc. has signed a lease with St. John Properties Inc. for 10,080 square feet of space at 8430 Spires Way in the Riverside Technology Park, a 44-acre, mixed-used business community on Monocacy Boulevard in Frederick. Subaru plans to open a regional training center at the location to support Subaru dealerships throughout the mid-Atlantic area, providing instruction for between 10 and 24 employees per day with a blend of classroom and hands-on vehicle instruction. Danny Severn, leasing associate with St. John Properties, represented the landlord. The tenant was represented by John Wilhide, John Boote and Ken Zirk of CBRE.

SALES 

Blue & Obrecht Realty LLC, of Timonium, a full-service commercial real estate firm offering landlord and tenant representation, and property acquisition and disposition, reported the sale of 211 Cockeysville Road, a 3,080-square-foot office building in Cockeysville, to Laker LLC. Paul F. Obrecht III and Patrick M. Smith of Blue & Obrecht Realty represented the seller, Cockeysville Road LLC, and George Santos of Colliers International represented the buyer.